We’ve been in this phase of no compromise from the GOP whatsoever. And today I’m seeing a lot of pundits talking about compromising with Trump. Once again, let’s examine how wrongheaded that thinking is.
In the 90s, Gingrich seized on a political strategy: intransigence. Be as uncompromising as possible to wrest as many concessions out of the opposition. Take a signature piece of Clinton era legislation, the crime bill. Clinton actually vetoed it twice on account of it being too extreme. He still had reservations about the third version, but didn’t want to be perceived as the one who was uncompromising. This was the case with the budget. Don’t wring out the concession you want? Shut down the government.
This played out in California as well. Schwarzenegger was battling with the Democrats in the State Legislature over the budget, with the Democrats wanting to balance the budget through a mixture of tax increases and budget cuts, while Schwarzenegger wanted spending cuts alone. In earlier eras, the obvious compromise would be to come to some kind of middle ground on cuts and taxes. But Arnie went on the radio every morning and said, “The Democrats refuse to compromise!” and then moments later, “under no circumstances will I raise taxes.” It was such a malicious abuse of the notion of compromise, and for decades it’s been the Republican strategy of choice.
When Obama was President, he adopted a Republican health care plan as his signature policy initiative. They called him a socialist, questioned his citizenship, and screamed “You lie” during his address to Congress.
Now we come to Trump. It’s generally been conventional wisdom that a President who loses the popular vote but wins the Electoral College adopt a particularly compromising policy slate. Yet here we are with Trump’s extremist rhetoric.
Trump talked about unity. But did he offer any compromises to achieve that goal? Or did he dress up his old policies with Teleprompter rhetoric?
Trump wasn’t trying to gain your support. He was telling you to get in line, or else.
Have you ever gotten into a fight? Have you ever been mugged? Do you know what the difference is? When you get in a fight, there’s a predictable escalation. You can talk them down. When you get mugged, they’ve already decided that they’re going to hurt you.
Democrats are people who think they’re about to get in a fight, when in reality they’re being mugged. The Republicans have already committed to breaking your jaw with a hammer and taking everything from you. Waxing eloquent about unity and compromise will achieve nothing. The GOP decided to bury it in the 90s.