Tea party’s challenge: Change what it means to compromise

The theme of this midterm election is clear: Stop the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda of big-big-bigger government now.

The irony is that, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as one big possible exception, the largest projected losses for the Democrats are not in the most liberal wing of the party. The big losers will be among the Blue Dogs, the party’s self-described moderates.

And they’re going to lose because, while they barked loudly about checking the Dems’ more extreme impulses, in the end they always rolled over.

Many of the Republicans set to take their places are, or have been boosted by, tea partiers. They may not be moderates, but they are like the Blue Dogs in that, sooner or later, they will be asked to stand up for their principles — and against the majority in their own party.

That means they will have to work hard to avoid the Blue Dogs’ fate of submission and eventual irrelevance. And they can only do that by changing the language and currency of compromise.

Going into Tuesday, many tea partiers hold the very word “compromise” in contempt. They have built a phenomenal political movement on their resolute opposition to President Obama and the Democrats. They have also firmly warned the Republican establishment not to expect a return to the GOP’s business as usual.

Having risen from nowhere, they don’t plan to back away from either stance.

But political movements that don’t produce results also don’t survive very long. Simple math — along with Obama’s presence in the White House for two more years; six more years if the GOP blows it — suggests tea-party Republicans won’t have the votes to shrink Washington as they wish all at once.

That said, “compromise” doesn’t have to take the same forms that it historically has taken on Capitol Hill.

It does not have to be a vote for an earmark, or an expansion of government here for a reduction of government there.

It could be agreeing to cut spending first, and revisit tax rates later.

It could be a willingness to give up some popular tax deductions in exchange for reform that flattens and simplifies tax rates overall.

It could be agreeing to cut spending in areas they’d tend to protect — the defense budget comes to mind — in exchange for reductions in departments they’d prefer to target.

It could be a resolve to come together temporarily with anyone, even their ideological opposites, who is prepared to finally quash corporate-welfare programs such as farm subsidies for big agribusiness.

It could be the patience to prioritize the regulations that need the most urgent attention and relief, rather than taking a scattered approach to many areas all at once.

In all these areas and more, it could be moving more slowly than desired, as long as the direction is clear and the progress steady. And, of course, having the wisdom to know when to compromise in these ways and when not to budge.

This midterm election has become more of a national referendum than maybe any such contest before it. The flip side is that, two years from now, these congressional insurgents will be scrutinized like no other freshman class before them.

But they should take confidence from the fact that they overcame all odds, and a substantial smear campaign, to reach the threshold at which they now stand. If they do what’s right, the voters will stick with them in 2012.

137 comments Add your comment

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

October 29th, 2010
7:16 pm

Is it no surprise that the Urinal’s “Conservative” would suggest that we cut defense spending?

There is no compromising with America’s enemies, whether foreign or domestic, just sayin…

Allen

October 29th, 2010
7:18 pm

I think the article starts and ends on faulty premises. The President and the congressional Democrats consistently poll better than congressional Republicans. And midterm elections typically favor the outparty. So, it’s not clear that the theme of this election is revulsion at big government.

The Republicans are simply more energized.

Lil' Barry Bailout

October 29th, 2010
8:07 pm

If congressional Democrats are polling better than congressional Republicans, I guess the Dems will hold on to the house. Right, Allen?

Lil' Barry Bailout

October 29th, 2010
8:07 pm

And oh, by the way, our President Bush is polling better than the Idiot Messiah.

barking frog

October 29th, 2010
8:21 pm

The ‘Tea Party’ will not even be a Republican caucus.

HDB

October 29th, 2010
8:30 pm

The problem is that the word “compromise” has too many negative connotations with Republicans; the only ting they’ve desired is a return to policies that got us here in the first place!! Republicans NEED to change from a short-term, myopic point of view to a LONG-TERM, LONG RANGE point of view!! Many just don’t have that!!

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

October 29th, 2010
9:26 pm

Oh, the liberals care about us!

How sweet.

Jennifer

October 29th, 2010
10:53 pm

Just for kicks and giggles I went to a Tea Party rally in Gwinnett tonight. What a joke, but I wasn’t giggling when I walked out. I learned nothing, but saw some frightening things. Watched Herman McCain frenzy a crowd and ridicule a young man after he asked an a question far superior to any of the other adults. On top of it all, a man asked “Minorities are mostly Democrats, is that because they are stupid, lazy, dumb or just uninformed ?” This group just frightens the bejebbies out of me.

Jennifer

October 29th, 2010
10:56 pm

Sorry, Herman Cain. Not McCain – although the stuff he was selling felt like it had been packaged by a fast food vendor.

Lil' Barry Bailout

October 29th, 2010
11:06 pm

HDB, ain’t no compromising with pure evil of the type represented by your Idiot Messiah!

DeborahinAthens

October 30th, 2010
7:11 am

The Tea Party candidates and those that stump for them are mostly idiots that can only parrot the catch phrases, like their goddess, Sarah Palin, does. I would encourage all of you to read the article about Sarah Palin in October’s “Vanity Fair”, also read the book, “Game Change”. I saw an excerpt of the debate that Christine O’Donnell had with her opponent where she belligerently said,”I wish someone would show me in the Constitution where it says there should be a separation of church and state.” Her opponent, looked at her like she was in idiot and proceeded to quote the First Amendment VERBATIM. She shut up for a few seconds, with that attempt-at-cute smile. God help us all. These people are idiots that, given power, will take this country back to the dark ages. As a woman, who knows so many bright, intelligent women, I have come to the conclusion, that the religious fundamentalist, right-wing creators of the Tea Party want to prove to their male dominated, anti-female base, that women cannot be trusted to do anything other than be barefoot and pregnant. That HAS to be the explanation. Otherwise why would McCain chose such a bimbo who now seems to have a shot at the Presidency? Why would an air-head like O’Donnell get financial backing and massive exposure by people like Sean Hannity? When you look at the people, PACs and corporations that are giving Palin and the others like her such incredible financial backing it seems likely the one thing they want is to split the Republican party into two factions. There will be three people vying for the Presidency in 2012. Palin will be one (gag a maggot!). No one will get over 50% of the vote, so the House will decide. Guess which party will be in control? Guess who will be the President? Yeah, the one that throws temper tantrums when she doesn’t get her bendy straws. The one that throws cans of food at her husband Todd. After she either fails miserably, and she will, or she will quit halfway through her term, the men in the fundamentalist ilk will say, “See, we told you women shouldn’t be President.” There will never be another female President in our lifetime. Sorry if this sounds off the wall, but I just don’t get it.

marko

October 30th, 2010
7:23 am

The Democrats losing their seats, as Kyle pointed out, will be conservative Democrats. The guy’s you’re replacing are the very guy’s you might have compromised With. The remaining liberal types, though smaller in number, will benefit from being more ideologically pure. In other words, no more Dimos. Ideological people don’t compromise. To compromise you need people capable of seeing two sides of an issue. Rid the world of Rinos and Dimos , and all you’ve got left is partisan stonewalling. Agree to raise taxes on the top 2% and you might get some serious spending cuts in return. On the other hand, see where my way or the highway gets you.

Southern Comfort

October 30th, 2010
7:25 am

Great post Kyle. Unfortunately, the people who need to hear that message the most will undoubtedly choose to ignore it.

Compromise has been a part of our government since it’s inception. The first attempt at a government under the Articles of Confederation was too weak. The founders did not want an overbearing central government so they intentionally weaked it’s role. They found that in their quest, they made it too weak to survive. They compromised with others who wanted a strong centralized government and we ended up with our Constitution.

There are some on the Right and Left who would sit down and compromise and deliver that “Constitution-like government”. However, the people in control are catering to the extremes. We would end up with another Articles of Confederation from one group and the other would give us a monarchy.

I just can’t wait for Nov 3rd. I’m tired of the campaign lunacy.

the wingnutzo party

October 30th, 2010
7:49 am

The Wingnutzi Party could take o’er the land of the free, and robo-monkeys could fly out of Liza Minelli’s butt, but more likely, the dems will hold on, barely.

If the Germans could have voted for a moderate, something in between Hindenberg and Hitler, say, I don’t know who, maybe, Nixon? then there would have been no axis of evil, but rather only a pacific war with Japan. (Japan would haved bombed Pearl Harbor instead of the Germans).

Thus voters on tuesday will remember the Tora Tora (the actual Jap battle cry used only two “toras”. Hollywood added the third tora, which was so memorably uttered by a little-known B-movi actor in credibility-straining Asian makeup by the name of Ronald Reagan.) True.

SO our Republic will survive, and not even witchcraft can keep us in the deep voodoo it took two Bush’s to get us stuck in.

THe only real danger to our republic is a third Bush. Hollywood campaign wizards will add him in later.

jconservative

October 30th, 2010
7:57 am

Nice column Kyle. And I agree completely.

The Tea Party types may be placing way to much trust in the current Republican congressional leadership. Remember it was just September that McConnell introduced his bill to extend the complete Bush tax cuts
with no provision for funding. He intends to borrow the money from China and Japan to give me a tax cut. That is the exact thing Obama did in 2009.

If it is just the same, I will pass on the tax cuts just to keep from borrowing against my grand kids paychecks.

Lets just cut the size of government. And if Defense spending is off the table then all that will happen is that we will be playing a game of pretend.

I really can’t wait to just sit and watch the first 6 months of the new congress starting in January.

Tyler Durden

October 30th, 2010
8:16 am

Cutting defense spending makes INCREDIBLE sense (not sarcasm, I assure you) but the GOP would never do it. The Liptonites also lack the cajones to challenge the lunatic fringe of the right, and that’s where all of the energy is coming from.

When it’s all said and done, the ‘baggers are just gonna make it easy for Obama to get reelected in ‘12…

Eric

October 30th, 2010
8:19 am

deborahinathens,

She will “fail miserably”
No Palin supporter here at all, but… worse than Barry? really? REALLY?
His every word and deed is the pure definition of failure.
When will he resign? After the vote of no confidence on Tuesday? When we are completely bankrupt?

Talk about somebody wanting a group of people to fail – who are the backers behind this idiot who want people to say that black people are just too stupid to govern?

Just saying…

Lil' Barry Bailout

October 30th, 2010
8:25 am

marko
7:23 am

The Democrats losing their seats, as Kyle pointed out, will be conservative Democrats. The guy’s you’re replacing are the very guy’s you might have compromised With.
————————–

No, they’re the guys who rolled over whenever Pelosi needed their votes. They caved on their “principles”.

Geodude

October 30th, 2010
8:30 am

It seems like in the past two years, the Republicans idea of compromise was to vote no on any Democratic bill – every single one of them. And if you broke step with the party line, you may as well quit Congress because you will feel the full wrath of the Republican Party. If the Democrats had been able to act like that, they could have passed a government single-payer health care system two months after President Obama was elected (not that I favor that). They had the filibuster-proof majority. The sad thing is that the Republicans (or at least some of them) did not sit down with the Democrats to hammer out a REASONABLE health care reform bill. Maybe then we would have had a simpler version that contained tort reform.

interested observer

October 30th, 2010
8:33 am

I firmly expect the Tea Partiers to roll over on their principles when they’re subjected to the pressures and opportunities present in Washington. They’re largely ignorant of how government works and are unprepared for the atmosphere. They’ll be absorbed into the Republican Party in six weeks like a pebble tossed into a lake.

Lil' Barry Bailout

October 30th, 2010
8:37 am

Geodude, the Democrats couldn’t pass some of their more extreme schemes because they couldn’t convince their own members. As you point out, they had a filibuster-proof majority. And somehow this is the fault of Republicans?

Buzz G

October 30th, 2010
8:37 am

There are no conservatives in the Democratic party anymore. The party took a hard left back in the sixties. Ronald Reagan was right when he said he did not leave the Democratic party, but the party left him. The “blue dogs” are fake. They pretended to be conservative and talk conservative back home, but when they get to Washington, they nearly always vote liberal. Our country will be much better off without them. They are losing their jobs because a lot of people have finally figured out what a bunch of phonies they are.

Lil' Barry Bailout

October 30th, 2010
8:38 am

Long story short, the left wing of the Democrat party refused to compromise with the extreme left wing of the Democrat party.

Lil' Barry Bailout

October 30th, 2010
8:39 am

The Idiot Messiah failed to unite the liberal fascists in Congress with the Blue Dogs.

carlosgvv

October 30th, 2010
8:47 am

The only thing Republicans have to stand up for is Corporate America, their sponsors. It is Big Business that wants less and less government so they will have more and more of a free hand to make as much money as possible without all of those nasty regulations in place now. Times change but people don’t and predatory Capitalism is alive and well. Count on it.

Lil' Barry Bailout

October 30th, 2010
8:50 am

Guess what carlos? “Corporate America” doesn’t vote. American people vote.

Oops, forgot, we’re all a bunch of rubes voting against our own self interest. We’re consumed with greed and we vote against our own self interest. Makes perfect sense.

redneckbluedog

October 30th, 2010
9:30 am

Just goes to show..even a monkey will get it right every now and then…I think DC might be able to get to good, tough, immigration reform over the next two years and that’s probably about it…I don’t think the Bush tax cuts will be extended. The Dems will hold them hostage for tax cuts for the middle class but not the wealthy…at least I hope that’s what they do….

redneckbluedog

October 30th, 2010
9:35 am

Pretty good point, L’il Barry…I think you just vote how your dad voted with no depth of thought beyond each election…You can’t deny who has shipped the jobs overseas, nor who would sell this country to China in a second…cutting taxes for these people and avoiding the deficit makes no sense…
The President and the Democrats have done a good job. They tried to do what they promised in 2008. Aside from Maxine Waters and Charlie Rangel, they have been pretty well-behaved, too…Unlike Phil Gramm, Tom DeLay, Larry Craig, Mark Foley, and John Ensign…

carlosgvv

October 30th, 2010
9:38 am

Lil’Barry Bailout

If you don’t know what laissez faire means, look it up in the dictionary. Corporate America’s goal is to go back to the days of 12 hour workdays 6 days a week, no health insurance, no sick days, no vacation time and no worker’s Comp. Already some CEOs are talking about doing away with health insurance. Many workers today are complaining of having to work longer hours with no overtime pay. Your Tea Party is nothing more than a tool of Big Business and most of it’s followers don’t even realize it. Making fun of me and ignoring this will not make it go away.

Techfan

October 30th, 2010
9:44 am

Lil: Corporations might not have an actual vote, but most voters I know can’t write checks for a few million dollars to a candidate or cause, Nor can they buy a string of commercials to influence elections.

John

October 30th, 2010
9:55 am

What scares me is the Tea Party candidates and those backing them are so uninformed. They create their own facts. Case in point, Rachel Maddow was in Alaska trying to get an interview with Joe Miller. There were Joe Miller backing in front of his building holding political signs. Two of those people said they were fighting against Obama because Eric Holder was against guns and the 2nd amendment. She asked the first person (a young guy) what did Eric Holder do that was against guns. He was stumped and answered with “what has he not done against guns, that’s the question we should be asking”. She pressed him further since he made that charge. He then said check Eric’s voting record. Rachel responded that Mr. Holder is not an elected official; therefore, he has no voting record. The guy then admitted he didn’t know the facts but he knows Eric Holder is against guns. The second person (a woman), when asked what Eric Holder has done against guns, replied she doesn’t know the details, but she knows he’s against guns.

Left wing management

October 30th, 2010
9:56 am

“But they should take confidence from the fact that they overcame all odds, and a substantial smear campaign”

Sounds like you’re describing Obama ‘08.

“THe only real danger to our republic is a third Bush. Hollywood campaign wizards will add him in later.”

I agree. Bush restoration in ‘12 anyone? I think we’re in deeeeep vooodooo.

John

October 30th, 2010
10:06 am

Kyle,

Why wouldn’t you hold the Republicans and Tea Parties up to the same standards you hold the Democrats to. The policies started by Bush and Obama have got us out of the recession and the economy is growing. I understand it’s growing slowly but progress is being made. Of course, you think 2 years is long enough.

Take the same position with Republicans and Tea Partiers…if they do come into power and don’t make major changes in 2 years…vote them out of Congress. You expect quick changes by Democrats but advocate small, slow changes by Republicans.

Gator Joe

October 30th, 2010
10:07 am

It will be fascinating to hear and see lower and middle class whites’ reaction, who after voting for Tea Party candidates , discover these people are intellectually unprepared, inept, unqualified, and therefore unable to solve their problems. Their jobs will continue to move to China, the air they breathe will be more polluted, their workplaces will be less safe, and their health care will be at the mercy of private insurance companies whose primary concern is profit, just to name a few areas. The main beneficiaries of their votes are Big Oil, Big Business, and the very wealthy who used and will abuse them. Even Fox “News” will not be able to convince them they are better off.

muslim nucular bomb: muscular bombs

October 30th, 2010
10:13 am

A muslim nuke could be called a muscular bomb (if we were all idiot-malaprops like Bush was).

but then it wouldn’t be a smart bomb.

AmVet

October 30th, 2010
10:59 am

…discover these people are intellectually unprepared, inept, unqualified, and therefore unable to solve their problems.

The legacy of voting for the worst president in modern American history – George Walker Bush.

My gawd, it was patently obvious to anyone with their eyes open, that based on his performance in that 2000 campaign, he was WOEFULLY incapable of doing the job. And even given that, the Republirubes re-elected him for four more years of serial failures and impeachable offenses.

And I wish beyond wish, that I had been wrong about him…

John

October 30th, 2010
11:01 am

Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader has already warned us where we’re headed if Republicans take control of Congress.

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” Mr. McConnell said in an interview with National Journal.

Notice, it’s not the economy, it’s not jobs, it’s not health care, it’s not big government, it’s not the deficit…it’s to try to make Obama fail. How do you accomplish that? Do everything you can to make sure the country and the American people are worse off in 2 years than we are today. Take us backwards instead of forward.

This was not the words of Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck or others in the right wing media…this was the leader of the Senate Republicans.

John Barnes

October 30th, 2010
12:09 pm

Another post from a Georgia windbag. Kyle, they are hiring at McDonalds. Your talents are best used there; leave the thinking to those who know what to do with a brain.

You expect a party of retards who only know how to block instead of do anything meaningful, to change anything about a country heading downhill?

retiredds

October 30th, 2010
12:15 pm

Kyle, there is a saying, “those who live by the sword, die by the sword”. If the TP folks refuse to compromise, they will fade into the history books as well wishers who couldn’t get the job (promises) done. I tend to agree with most of what you write with one exception. I would change the part of your sentence that reads: “the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda of big-big-bigger government”, to: “the LBJ-Reagan-Bush 1-Clinton-Bush II-Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda of big-big-bigger government”. This move to bigger and bigger government, my young conservative writer, has been going on for many decades, but you have to be a student of history, and in particular the fiscal/monetary history of the U.S., to understand that. Our current fiscal and economic problems did not just materialize over the last two years. The current deficit dilemma would not be so harrowing if prior administrations and Congresses fiscal and economic track record had been more sane(and less expansive on the spending side). And, you know the other adage: those who don’t study or know history are doomed to repeat it.

Quite frankly I am (and have been over my almost 50 voting years) more inclined to favor a split representation between the Executive and Congressional branches of government. History suggests, with very few exceptions, that the worst policy decisions are made when both branches are of the same party. So I look forward to the Republicans, be they TP or otherwise, take over one or both branches of the Congress. Maybe then, we can see if they will be cooperative (bipartisan) or obstructionist. Time will tell. If the former prevails things will get done. It the latter prevails, nothing gets done and the American people get the shaft.

By the way my own personal view is that things won’t change radically as the US is more of a middle of the road political entity.

RW-(the original)

October 30th, 2010
12:22 pm

Compromise is a dangerous idea when one of the parties to the compromise calls themselves a “progressive” movement. With them the compromise never represents the final product it only outlines their new starting point for their next push and, of course, then you’re obligated to compromise from there since you’ve already set the pattern in motion.

Ayn Rant

October 30th, 2010
12:33 pm

The Tea Partiers know what they want: no more federal budget deficits, low taxes for everyone, no cuts in the federally mandated benefits they have come to expect, and lots of big bombs and rockets to defend us from the (expired) Soviet Union.They don’t know how that can be achieved; actually, it can’t. They cannot cite any specific cuts that would reduce the federal budget significantly (20% or more).

No one can compromise with them. There is no middle ground between nonsense and sense!

RW-(the original)

October 30th, 2010
12:33 pm

I bet I couldn’t start four out of five lines with the same word again if I tried all day.

Southern Comfort

October 30th, 2010
12:39 pm

RW

I’d say that not willing to compromise would be just as dangerous when one of the parties calls themselves “conservatives”. Conservative by nature means to rely on tried and true methods and not be overly open to changing the way you think or act. In this modern world, technology, for one, changes within a matter of months. The old tried and true can quickly become obselete in the blink of an eye. If you’re not willing to try new ways of doing things, you could find yourself going the way of the dodo’s.

I understand your point, and agree somewhat. Compromise can be bad, even dangerous, if it is not carefully moderated. The same could be said about alcohol, driving, and many other things.

Southern Comfort

October 30th, 2010
12:40 pm

RW @ 12:33

I didn’t notice that at first. That’s real cool!!!!

RW-(the original)

October 30th, 2010
12:46 pm

That’s real cool!!!!

On topic too!

:-)

SoCo,

No fair using real definitions for what political definitions have d/evolved into. One would think a progressive would be for progress if you use those real definitions, but the very first of the political progressives decided it was best for everyone if we segregated the government.

Southern Comfort

October 30th, 2010
12:52 pm

Ok… Unsportsmanlike Conduct on SoCo… intermingling political definitions… 15 yard penalty… repeat the down.

:)

I’m just tired of the partisan hacking. At some point in time, the grown-ups have to become grown up and do what’s right for country. Even if that means doing something that you personally or your political party thinks is not completely the right thing to do.

RW-(the original)

October 30th, 2010
12:55 pm

SoCo,

If you’re tired of it make sure you don’t flip to WSB-TV for the next half hour or so.

John

October 30th, 2010
12:56 pm

RW

“Compromise is a dangerous idea when one of the parties to the compromise calls themselves a “progressive” movement. ”

You know, you’re right RW. Why would anyone want to compromise and take us backwards as a nation. You do know the opposite of “progressive” is “regressive”. In case you don’t know the meaning of regress, Merriam-Webster defines regress as “movement backward to a previous and especially worse or more primitive state or condition”. Is this what you really want, to move our country backward instead of forward?

When has progression become a bad word? I challenge you, walk up to your boss and tell him progression is a bad thing and that you’ve decided you would like to regress in your position. Tell your financial manager that instead of making money (progress), you want to loose money (regress). I doubt you’ll take that challenge.

RW-(the original)

October 30th, 2010
1:04 pm

Fifteen yard penalty on John too.

John,

I did just take your challenge about my boss. I looked in the mirror and told myself I was tired of people thinking political progressives wanted anything good for this country. It turns out I agreed with myself so I’m still employed.

@@

October 30th, 2010
1:25 pm

‘Ya know, Kyle…when you’ve got both Democrats and Republicans worried, you’re doing something right for a change. Rather than call it compromise, it should be called OverHaulingAll previous “solutions”.

I’m tired of politicians asking my principles to take a back seat to their “superior” judgment.

Thbbpppbt