May 23, 2023

Please Don't Fight for Me

Please Don't Fight for Me

Normally, I get several emails each day from some politician, either telling me how they are fighting for me or how they will fight for me if I help them get elected. I suppose it must be a successful pitch since it is so ubiquitous. But personally, the last thing I am interested in is an elected official, or prospective elected official, promising to fight more with the other side.

Interestingly though, the polling indicates that a large majority of the American people agree with me. Marist College has been asking Americans for the last decade if it is more important to them to “stand on principle even if it means gridlock” or “compromise to find solutions.” A supermajority has consistently responded that compromising is more important. In December, support for compromise hit its highest level in a decade.

And the preference for compromise is consistent across all demographics. The crosstabs on the December 2022 Marist poll (see p. 17) show that Democrats and Independents are somewhat more inclined to compromise but a clear majority of Republicans are as well. Compromise is widely supported across all ethnicities, ages, income brackets and geographic locations. Despite this overwhelming consensus, 58% of the respondents had no confidence that the Washington officials would work together in a bipartisan way.

Little wonder. In the current reincarnation of the recurring self-inflicted debt ceiling debacle, Americans see the two parties incessantly repeating their talking points that the other side is to blame. As if they repeat them for the one thousandth time, we are suddenly going to be persuaded.

Polling shows that a small majority of Americans would rather not raise the debt ceiling but would reluctantly support doing so if it means the US avoiding a default. That seems like a pretty common-sense view. But most also think the government spends too much.

Of course, the problem is that Americans largely do not agree on what programs should be cut or increased. But that is hardly surprising in a large pluralistic country like ours. We have a representative government to hammer compromises on such issues that give everyone a little and no one everything.

So, please do all of us all a favor and stop with the constant posturing, brinkmanship and finger-pointing, and get a deal cut that will raise the debt ceiling and hopefully begin to gradually turn our ship toward a more sustainable fiscal course. If our two moribund political parties cannot get it done on both counts, I suspect there is going to be hell to pay on both sides. The battle cry for the 2024 elections may be, “Fire them all!”

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