What will 2016 bring in politics?
What is the best we can hope for politically in 2016, a presidential election year? Harmony between Democrats and Republicans? Hardly. Then maybe just a fair amount of cooperation in congress with the president to keep the country moving forward? Doubtful, with both parties hoping to have more power a year from now.
So for 2016, perhaps more modest expectations will allow us to better appreciate the limitations of governing in election seasons.
First, let’s consider that agreement is not always possible or even best for the country. There have certainly been times in our history when principled opposition has moved the nation forward. Then, too, well informed people can come to very different conclusions about the same issues. Democrats might well believe that a stronger minimum wage would help the poorest workers and elevate the entire economy. Republicans might honestly have concerns about the jobs that could be lost when the minimum wage is increased.
These are not superficial concerns, not posturing arguments, but basic differences in how this part of our economy is viewed differently by equally smart people.
Second, the historic nature of American politics is compromise. While this is not a period where compromise has had many fans or named many accomplishments, it remains true in divided government that the only real choice is compromise or nothing. Nothing is actually an agreeable outcome sometimes to the more libertarian among us, though that view is most often a minority reflection.
The two year budget deal recently completed was an example of practical compromise. Neither Democrats nor Republicans, nor the President, were happy with all of the components within that budget. But everyone got something and every sacrifice seemed tolerable in the process of exchange.
This recently underused governing fundamental, compromise, has one again demonstrated its deep and true value. Good for congress.
Finally, is it reasonable to hope 2016 will be a year when politically we all set stereotyping aside and just talk to each other, respectfully, about our disagreements? That is probably a bridge too far for 2016. Our bare knuckle politics has made the fact checkers wince in daily pain, and there is no indication that is soon to change.
But it is not wrong to wish those who would lead the nation would make the best well reasoned arguments, based upon the best facts available. Stereotyping groups, voters who candidates think they cannot attract, harms us all with its damage to our historic acceptance of those who come to America both new and different. This enriches America as our history amply demonstrates.
Still, wishing for what will not happen is just that, wishing. Happy political 2016.
Jim Crawford is a retired teacher and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.