Congress needs to compromise

staff editorial

The passing of the stimulus bill by the House of Representatives last week without a single Republican vote and without the Democrats negotiating the bill with the Republicans, reveals that bipartisanship may be only a fairytale for the Obama administration without the importance of compromise among both parties being fully realized.

The soaring rhetoric of President Barack Obama may have captivated the American people, but it doesn’t look like it has swept away the mounting polarization within Congress, particularly within the House of Representatives, or that it has really changed the way politics works.

It seems that the only way Obama can successfully change the partisanship within Congress is to be assertive, yet willing to listen with both parties in Congress. That includes Republicans. It is through communication, negotiation and compromise that policies will have a chance of being passed with more than just the support of the majority.

By refusing to sit down and go over the stimulus bill with Republicans last week, Democrats were choosing to pass the bill as quickly as possible to let America know that a Democratic House is effective and responsive. However, the Democrats ultimately revealed a Democratic House is not willing to listen to those who have R’s at the end of their names.

Although both parties are at fault, it was the responsibility of the majority party to take the initiative and negotiate with the Republicans, whose view was to take more time on the passage of the bill in order to be certain that it will genuinely be effective.

The bitter polarization in today’s Congress, however, is only a magnified exaggeration of the partisanship amongst most Americans. Congress represents members of the Democratic party who are far more to the left than the rest of the country’s Democrats and members of the Republican party who far more to the right than the rest of the country’s Republicans. This partisanship within politics is not reflective of the majority of the nation.

In dealing with the tug-of-war game of partisanship and party control, Congress is essentially like a couple of stubborn 7-year-olds fighting over the rights to a tiny sandpit (or, in this case, a stimulus bill that has the potential to either make or break the country’s economy). The power at stake may be a tad greater, but the rules haven’t changed. It’s time for Congress to stop bickering and start listening.

Whether or not Congress is even remotely capable of listening to each other will be the true test of the Obama administration’s ability to change politics.

The more polarized Congress becomes, the less effective the Obama adminstration will become. As much as Obama may be criticized by his supporters for negotiating with the other party, the truth is that compromise in politics is the only way to get things done effectively.