Can the Left, Right agree on anything?

Published 10:22 am Friday, June 10, 2011

Two of my very best friends are deeply conservative. And, yes, we can be friends and have strongly held different views politically.

And frankly America needs opposing views of the future, alternatives paths to tomorrow. We are at our best when we argue and then resolve our differences into practices that can be reached by political compromise. Though some today argue against compromise, politics without compromise is warfare.

So I have wondered lately if, given the current political polarity in the nation, is there anything the Left and the Right can agree upon. I have concluded that maybe we can stretch to some agreements. Here are the areas where it seemed most hopeful:

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1. Maybe we can agree that we need to improve education in America. And, if that is possible, I suspect we could agree that we should examine merit pay for teachers who excel. What the basis is of that merit pay would be more difficult to reach agreement I imagine, but for now, perhaps the Left and Right could agree that there is a place for merit pay in education.

2. We can probably agree that we should find a way to address the failing infrastructures across the nation, whether bridges, roads, or sewers. Clearly we have to maintain these facilities and protect the safety of these aging systems.

3. We might be able to agree, that if you prefer a Flat Tax, a Fair Tax or a Progressive Tax, we need some changes in this overly complicated system, even if the changes are revenue neutral.

4. We can all agree that we need to reduce the deficit and the debt I suspect, though after initial agreement there seems little common ground.

5. We should agree that health care costs are breaking the nation. Whatever solution you prefer is, and has certainly been, a subject of great debate; but that our system is costing too much should be something we can agree about.

6. We are not going to change the Afghanistan culture, and nation — building there probably can never succeed.

7. We often have both too much and too little regulation at the same time. We should review all regulatory rules on a five-year schedule, eliminating duplication, ending those that accomplish less than expected, and enforcing those that work and protect consumers.

8. The concept of Imperial America is not going to work in the 21st century. We need to close many military bases on foreign soil and shift from the cop on the beat to concerns of self interest and national security.

9. Maybe we can agree if Republicans and Democrats refuse to listen to the voters in spite of voters booting them both in large numbers since 2006, we should take serious the creation of new political parties.

10. Medical malpractice costs are not the biggest problem in health care, but for professionals they are among the most expensive insurance cost and the most troubling cloud over practice. We should consider revising malpractice law.

11. We did not get into the fiscal hole we find ourselves in as a nation in a single year…it took 30 years of poor decisions by both political parties to create this mess. And we will not, and should not, get out of this in a year. We should all agree that we need a longer view, perhaps a decade for starters, and a plan that does not throw the economy into recession while addressing the deficit.

There may be more we can agree upon, or maybe you think some of these items we cannot agree. Write about your thoughts. Engage in the conversation.

Jim Crawford is retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.