The ideas of “consensus” and “compromise” and ones that I have struggled with all my life. I attended Quaker high school and college, and for those of you who don’t know, consensus is the way things are decided in those institutions. But consensus is not compromise. Consensus means “general agreement.” Compromise means agreement by mutual concessions. In other words, compromise means nobody ever gets 100 percent of they really want. Consensus means we’re all pretty happy with the outcome. (And I remember in high school sitting through many long and arduous meetings as that consensus was finally reached.)
And to be a person who — I like to think, anyway — has strong moral convictions, it’s hard to accept compromise. Because when you truly believe something is wrong, how can you concede on any part of it? In the current political environment, compromise on some of the stands Barack Obama has taken in the past month or two appears to clash with my most basic beliefs. Yet on the other hand, politics is politics. I was a political science major a bajillion years ago, and I have studied more elections and administrations than you would believe.
Norman Soloman of Truthout wrote an essay that shows he too is struggling with this dilemma. And he’s an Obama delegate.
We can set aside the plot line that touts Obama as a visionary pragmatist who has earned the complete trust of progressives. The belief has diminished in recent months – in the wake of numerous Obama pronouncements on foreign policy, his FISA vote to damage the Fourth Amendment and the like – but such belief was never really grounded in his record as a politician or his policy positions.
A more substantial narrative concedes Obama has “compromised” on numerous fronts, but assumes he has done so in order to get elected president, after which time his real self will emerge. This kind of dubious projection is as old as the political hills, and inevitably becomes a kind of murky exercise in armchair psychology. All in all, projection is not useful for assessing where political leaders are and where they’re headed.
In contrast, quite a few on the left – some from the outset of his presidential race, others beginning more recently – express appreciable disdain for the Obama campaign. The critiques of Obama’s positions on issues are often on the mark. Overall, the fact that Obama brings civility and intelligence to public discourse that would be a welcome change in the White House, does not alter the corporate centrist core of his espoused policies.
Please read the entire essay here.