THE COMPROMISE ROUTE

1. It’s Wednesday, January 24, 2018.

It’s the 1977th anniversary of the assassination of the Roman emperor Caligula by his guards. He was a nut case, even by Roman Empire standards.

Speaking of Trump, I was about a week off on how soon the “shithole countries” comment would be as much ancient history as Caligula’s demise.

2, I’m pretty solidly left of center. I support single-payer health care, strong gun control, higher taxes on those most able to pay, government regulation of banking and a foreign policy based on cooperation with our allies. Among lots of other things.

And because I have strong opinions, I very much want to see my agenda enacted. Preferably yesterday.

But here’s what else I understand. Not everyone agrees with me. And there might, in fact, be some people who don’t agree with me on anything.

And I also get that expecting my viewpoint – and only my viewpoint – to be how this country is run is not how a nation of 327,083,934 people – as of 3:29 p.m. ET – can function.

There are some liberal Democrats who would be frightened or bothered by the New York Times story this morning about how a group of senators wants there to be more bipartisanship.

Those senators believe the nation is lurching from crisis to crisis, with nothing being accomplished by its legislators.

The issue that appears to have crystallized this wish for bipartisanship is immigration – specifically, the threat to start deporting people who came here undocumented as children beginning in March.

To be fair, this is a threat inflicted by the party leader of 51 of the 100 senators. That would be Trump. It was unnecessary and meant to appeal to the small percentage of the populace that is terrified of anybody who’s not white.

But senators tend to be smart people. A huge chunk of them are lawyers, which meant they’ve been to college and grad school for at least six years.

And they know their history. For U.S. history, that includes such scars as the Chinese Exclusion Act, the refusal to admit Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, Japanese internment, the theft of Native American lands – and, of course, slavery and Jim Crow.

These senators understand that throwing young people out of the only home they’ve ever known would put them in the same hall of shame as predecessors who acquiesced in the other acts of infamy.

So they want to find a solution to save themselves from the judgment of history.

Immigration could be a starting point for our lawmakers accomplishing something. That’s certainly a worthy goal.

And, in a way, because of the polarization around us – polarization that, I admit, includes me – coming up with compromises is what this country has to do to get back on track for greatness.

3. The problem might be that damage has already been done. Its name is Trump.

The things this administration has done in the first 369 days of its existence have wiped out a lot of the progress this country has made in such areas as civil rights, the environment, health care and our relationship with the rest of the world.

Its list of horrible acts grows – yesterday’s was the imposition of tariffs on imported solar panels in a blatant effort to promote oil and coal production counter to reasonable energy policy.

I felt a little more optimistic reading this piece by Consumer Reports editor and former colleague Octavio Blanco that the drive to solar power might be unstoppable. Still, the effort to enrich dying fossil fuel industries is an out-and-out disgrace.

How does a bipartisan effort stop that? Would it be a bipartisan effort – are there any Republicans who actually see the move toward renewable energy as in our nation’s economic and strategic interests?

It’s the distrust that’s been fostered for generations by cynicism about our political system.

And some who lament the polarization need to look in the mirror. Where were the Republican voices seeking compromise when Barack Obama proposed reforming health care, basing it on a plan implemented by a Republican governor in Massachusetts?

Not a single Republican accepted Obama’s invitation to help craft a bipartisan measure.

So, yes, it really does seem as though the only way out of the mess our country finds it isn’t the my-way-or-the-highway approach. There needs to be compromise and cooperation. That there are people who still understand that is great – I wish them luck and success.

But I’ll believe it when I see it. And that it can only happen when Trump is safely out of the Oval Office.

 

 

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