Reflections Blog


Swallowing the Bitter Pill of Compromise

As parliamentarian governments around the world have long known, governance frequently requires compromising with one’s opponents in order to get anything accomplished, and a contrarian minority can wield substantial influence beyond its size by casting its votes with one coalition or another—and being coy with all sides about which way it’s going to vote until its intransigent demands are met by the coalition most willing to bend to the minority’s will.

We have now seen this power play in action in our federal government’s recent prolonged debate over raising the debt ceiling.  The insurgents our case were the minority Tea Party lawmakers in the House of Representatives who stood belligerently firm in their mantra of “no new taxes” and effectively held John Boehner and other mainstream Republicans hostage until the Tea Partiers (mostly) got their way. 

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