J and D's Corner

From the Letters Archive

To:    AV Press

Date: 01/2004

Re:    Compromise (aka Foreign Worker Program)

Opinion page reaction to Bush's proposed foreign worker program gives the impression that no one in America is in favor of it. Today was typical. Conservative writers Reyes and Perkins characterize it as "rewarding illegal behavior", ignoring the fact that the intent of the proposal is to provide a measure of legal control over the process. Socialist Keltner (who is inexplicably described in his by-line as a 'civil libertarian') rambles on about a worker's paradise where America is sealed off from the evil labor and products provided by lower-paid foreigners.

All this reinforces the frightening fact that compromise, the essential key to a functional democratic society, is becoming evermore difficult to sell in America. In many circles the very word is now considered a dirty one. Hard and fast positions on important proposals are routinely taken and held to the death based entirely on which party originated them, or on the fact that some relatively minor bit does not completely mesh with a political or religious outlook.

In the '60s and '70s the byword was "question authority". In those days the phrase was actually intended to convey the impression that authority was always wrong, but if you take it at face value it is an excellent admonition. Don't suspend rational thought just because your party, church, or social group tell you to. Step back and look at the whole picture, think it all through, and remember that "compromise" and "politics of the possible" are NOT dirty words.