Compromise and Action

How do we work with honest people across different ideologies? Get something done to help people? Without destroying the heart, the ability to speak truth to power, in our own movement? Here are some thoughts on very different things that could be called "compromise:"

  1. Compromise like a Democrat. Today, right now, before the other side is talking, take all the edge off your positions. Then, declare the compromise on a compromise to be a victory.
    Example: How about we let the Bush tax cuts for the rich lapse? Pretty please? That's our opening position, now let's compromise, then we'll tell our constituents we got something done.
  2. Speak Truth, then accept a mediated settlement. There are issues where meeting in the middle simply makes sense.
    We should be arguing for the tax system we want, taking it to people on it's own merits, "is this the America you want?" Inspire, then when it's time to legislate, we're not going to actually win everything we want. Just make it clear that the mediated settlement isn't what you wanted, and keep your position clear from your compromise.
  3. Compromise with people: don't be divided on everything just because you're divided on most things.
    We should reach out to the Tea Party politicians and see what we actually agree on, find out if there are ways to get money out of politics that make sense to both sides even if for different reasons, or where mere wording is getting in the way: they hate politicians accepting bribes; we hate corporations making the same bribes.
  4. Compromise with the supporters of politically-opposed movements, instead of the leaders.
    Voting is an example where Republican elites know they want to disenfranchise minorities and the poor, but their broader-base can only be rallied by beating around the bush. Democrats could "compromise" by pushing for stronger penalties for voter fraud (such as we saw in Ohio in 2004) instead of the ID laws which hurt the elderly and immigrants.
  5. Go Down with the ship.
    Example: Bill Clinton's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" always struck me as a place to make no compromise. Getting gays into the military was to very large degree a symbolic goal, it was about saying that gays were full fledged human beings, period. If this was the Holocaust, then Jews hiding their Judaism to escape would make sense. But it wasn't. It was a time to hold

For these exercises, try dividing some recent or favorite campaigns that weren't ready to simply win: what kind of compromise would have been best? When has Obama pulled the wrong type of compromise, what should he have done instead? Can Occupy alter the math? The Tea Party has altered Republican math, in a confusing mix where crazy politics is getting votes and sometimes losing elections. Can Occupy push for a more compassionate world without just helping elect the next Nixon or Bush? How?