Friday, January 24, 2014

The apple pie analogy

Did you listen to Morning Edition on NPR this morning? If you did, you might have heard the story about Tea Party voters in Idaho. Go ahead an listen if you missed it.

In the piece, one Idahoan compares political compromise to baking an apple pie. Listening to the way he sees compromise (each party wants to use a different type of apple in the pie, so the pie gets baked with no apples) it's no wonder he likes the Tea Party.

But he gets compromise wrong. Now, maybe the way politics has worked the past few years fits the no-apple-apple-pie analogy, but when that has happened it is precisely because the parties have not compromised.

See, if Bob and Mary want to bake an apple pie together, only Bob wants Red Delicious apples and Mary wants Fujis, to compromise, they might decide to use some of both. Or they might choose a 3rd variety altogether. They wouldn't end up ready to bake the pie and have no apples in it. If that happens, it is because they didn't compromise.

Now how should politics in Washington work? Well, the GOP and Democrats each have a list of what they want in a bill. If one party refuses to compromise and will only pass a bill if it is entirely their way, if one party expects the other party to 'compromise' but won't give a little, that's when you end up with a stalemate and no apples in the pie.

Look back to our very founding document, the Constitution. Why do we have three branches of government? Why are there two houses in Congress? Because the delegates who debated and wrote the Constitution had differing ideas of how the government should be and they compromised. They found solutions that all sides could agree on. That link, by the way, is to a nice history of the Philadelphia convention from the National Archives.

What really bugged me about the bad apple pie analogy, besides being a bad analogy, was that the Tea Party seems to be a big part of the non-compromise problem in Washington. Both sides of the aisle are culpable, and both sides of the aisle try to push things through without compromise, but some Tea Partiers have actually said they won't compromise. They actually would rather shut down the government than not get their way. So for someone who supports the Tea Party to complain that folks in Washington can't compromise while supporting a platform designed against compromise... Well, I'll just leave it there.

I just wish the old-fashioned fiscal conservative, small government GOP luck in these contested primaries. Because I sure would like to see some actual balance in Washington.

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