There has been a lot of coverage of Hank Williams Jr’s poor choice of metaphor apropos of President Obama and Speaker Boehner, as well as the football fallout and his unapology. Mr. Williams’ breakage of Godwin’s Law isn’t the dangerous part, though.
I normally avoid any discussion of politics; it’s as fruitful as porcine voice lessons, and worse company. I can’t get this one out of my head, though. So I’m putting it up on my blog, where no one will see it and I can get it off my chest.
Mr. Williams tried to explain his choice of words by characterizing Mr. Obama as “the enemy.” He said the first and third most powerful men in the US government are “polar opposites” who “don’t see eye-to-eye and never will.” He obviously feels that the President and the Speaker of the House shouldn’t be on speaking terms with one another, let alone playing golf together. He also complained that the “Tea Party” is painted as extremist, and implied that it’s because the “Tea Party” is made up of working-class people. He also tried to reassure people that he has “always respected the office of the President.”
Mr. Williams, like many of those self-confident, outspoken “Tea Party” folks, have come to have a deep misunderstanding of what “compromise” is. The ability to form a compromise between individuals or groups is a strength, and the lifeblood of a representative democracy. Compromise is not a weakness that inevitably means you’ve betrayed your principles. Compromise acknowledges that both sides (or even all sides) of an issue have some merit. Compromise takes it as a given that attaining some of our goals is better than attaining none of them. Compromise shows maturity, confidence, humility, wisdom, and kindness. Compromise grants respect to others, allows the same treatment in return, and invests in future negotiations by building trust, camaraderie, and association.
The headlong rush of politics away from any ability to reach a compromise is the primary symptom of the decline of the United States, and the inevitable end product of three generations of Me-first, temper-tantrum, “my way or the highway” living. Check off another item on your Book of Revelation to-do list; nothing can stop it now.