Compromise in the age of extremism

by david

I was listening to the radio in the car this weekend, and one of the NPR shows had a guest on talking about how the extreme partisanship increases voter turnout and political activity, and that from this perspective, what’s happening with the huge, vitriolic gap between right and left is a positive step for our political culture. I’d have heard the rest of the story, but at that point, I started convulsively vomiting because of the stench of bullshit pouring out of my speakers, lost control of the car, crashed, and died.

I’m better now, but my stomach is still roiling. Our extreme partisanship is good for America? I, uh, I, oh dear. I think I feel a… OH, sweet lord, grant me… AAAAAAH…. one of my eyes just hemorrhaged, seeing the words appear on screen…

OK, so with one remaining eye on the screen, I’ll refrain from restating his position, and just say this:

If one half of the politically engaged people in the country see the other half as indefensibly wrong, idiotic, and unpatriotic, they’ve put themselves in a position where compromise becomes impossible. “Compromise with people who are wrong, idiotic, and unpatriotic? That means turning the future of our country over people determined to destroy it!”

NO increase in voter participation makes up for the corrosion of our political system that comes from the hardening of extreme positions. Even if you believe, as I do, that the extremism is much more severe on the right (hell, the Democrats are practically now a moderate right party, and they’re anathema to conservative America), the hardening of political identification and allegiance is severe on both sides.

I like when more people vote. It’s a noble goal, and an end in itself. But given the choice between 40% turnout in a healthy political culture and 50% turnout in a broken one, I think I’d take the former.

OK, I’m going to find an eyepatch and some Tums.