Did you see Timothy Egan’s op-ed last week?  He argues that America is getting meaner and rightly blames people on both sides:

The Trump side that would (for example) cancel Liz Cheney for standing up to the Big Lie (if you still doubt it’s a big lie, check out Michigan Republicans eviscerate Trump voter fraud claims in scathing report) . . .

. . . but also the “woke” side that would (for example) disinvite gay cops from marching in New York’s Pride Parade — for five years, no less — because they’re, well, cops.  Insanity.

The truth is, most Americans share the same goals, most Americans are nice people, and we could get along pretty well if there weren’t systemic forces trying to divide us (with foreign adversaries masquerading as Americans fanning the flames).  It’s more profitable to be sensational than to be moderate.  In gerrymandered districts and low-turnout primary elections, there’s no need to appeal to moderate voters. (HR1/S1 would go a long way toward fixing that)

I once wrote a book called The Only Relationship Guide You’ll Ever Need.  It was one sentence long: “Be nice to each other, which I’m sure you already are; and find humor in the compromises, which I’m sure you already do — they’re worth it.”

Not as spectacularly short and wise as Barack Obama’s all-encompassing “be kind and be useful” but the best I could do.

In reading Egan’s essay, it occurred to me that some form of that Relationship Guide surely applies.  Compromises are worth it.  And humor?  Did you get a chance to watch the Cassius Clay clip posted Sunday along with Peter Thiel’s $5 billion IRA?

> For sure, humor is not enough.  There is none to be found in the George Floyd nightmare and so much more.  But in trying to get along despite our differences?  It has a place.

> And for sure:  We can’t compromise on the truth.  The earth is not half flat — it’s round.  The moon landing was not partly staged — it was real.  The election was not a toss-up — Trump lost.

But on so much else — like smart, equitable tax policy and smart, constructive criminal justice reform to take just two of perhaps a dozen key things almost all agree we need to do better on — there must be a way to find compromises that at least 70% or 80% of us can agree would move the country forward.

I would end there except to say “compromise” does not always mean “splitting the difference.”  On some issues (I would argue, most), the blue team is closer to a good solution than the red team — in part because for 40 years the red team has had dramatic success swinging the pendulum towards wealth versus work while neglecting infrastructure.  But on other issues (school closures is the only one that jumps to mind, but there must be others), the red team has been closer to the best solution.

“False equivalence” and “what aboutism” only hurt productive dialog.  Humor and compromise, by contrast, should help.



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