Tonawanda News

Columns

October 17, 2012

DUVALL: The art of compromising

Tonawanda News — When did

compromise become a dirty word?

Am I the only person who finds the following scenario quaint? Two groups disagree about something that requires a resolution of some sort. Rather than attempting to annihilate their opponent they sit down, talk through their differences and come to a reasonable compromise that gives both sides some of what they want.

In situation after situation, our society fails to do this. We’re seeing it constantly in our politics. We see it in the NHL lockout. We see it between neighbors played out at a local city council meeting.

This column has been written before Tuesday night’s debate between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. There’s one thing I can promise you: At some point the candidates will probably point out that they agree with each other. It will be an obvious and cynical ploy for the support of voters weary of all the negative advertising and constant attacks waged by both sides.

Granted, this is politics and candidates should disagree on issues. A robust discussion about the problems of the day — and we’re in no short supply of problems — is good for our democracy. But the way we contort policy positions into ad hominem attacks does a disservice to the system and to voters. I’m certain both men are good-natured personally. I’m certain some of their ideas have merit and would benefit the country. 

Those won’t be the issues you hear about in the debate. 

Similarly, the NHL owners have locked out their players for the third time in the 20 years or so that I’ve been an avid fan of the sport. Once it wiped out an entire season. Another time we lost half the games. 

There’s some progress in negotiations, but everyone knows what issues are involved. Why did it take so many months before the league made a serious offer to resolve its financial problems with the players’ union?

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