The compromise monster

Nookraker

By Jeremia Schrock
Sun Star Columnist

President Obama wants us to win the future (whatever that means). In his Jan. 25 State of the Union address, the President said, “We will move forward together, or not at all.”

Such “all or nothing” phraseology has roots deep in American history, beyond the New Neolithic period of the 2000s. Think of the “with us or against us” mentality that so guided our last president during the “War on Terror.”

It was Benjamin Franklin who, during the signing of the Declaration of Independence, allegedly proclaimed that “we must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” Helen Keller wrote that “alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” In 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. echoed that sentiment, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

Obama, recovering from the sting of 2010’s midterm elections, is now more the friend of compromise than ever. Those who paid attention know that it was only compromise (and Obama’s signature) that saw the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts. It was through compromise between Democrats and independents that President Obama was elected in 2008 at all.

What is striking about the “all or nothing” mentality is that we so rarely apply it on the large scale and when we do, it’s usually during a period of conflict. For example, in the first weeks of the war in Afghanistan, President Bush enjoyed 89 percent approval ratings. There were only two other moments afterward when Bush experienced a spike in popularity: when he authorized the invasion of Iraq and after Saddam Hussein was captured.

The spirit of compromise is in the air both in Alaska and nationally. On a Jan. 29 Facebook entry, Governor Parnell said that he “had positive meetings in DC with Senator Murkowski and Senator Begich related to a myriad of resource development, education, and health topics.” Even Sen. Begich is feeling the spirit, saying “with so many important issues on the table for Alaska, our pledge today was to work together as often as possible to improve and help our state and its residents.”

Such compromise can even be seen at UAF. Governor Parnell recently appointed two new members to the UA Board of Regents, Jo Heckman and Mike Powers. Their appointments are significant in that they will maintain the representational status quo of the Board: both are from Fairbanks and are replacing out-going board members Cynthia Henry and Erik Drygas.

ASUAF, our student government, may see some compromise this semester. Joshua Luther, a former student senator and now the Coalition Coordinator for the Coalition of Student Leaders, said during the Jan. 23 senate meeting that he hopes to see more involvement from ASUAF when it comes to making a “big push” for the Governor’s Performance Scholarship. It was former senator Lauren Wiley who, in a Jan. 24 email, said (albeit sarcastically) that she hopes “that ASUAF has a successful year and will actually make progress and not waste their time on issues that will not aid the students and our campus.”

So, how exactly does one “win the future?” By compromise. Because, let’s face it, the alternative just isn’t working. It’s time for the country to start seeing other ideologies.

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