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Thinking about our political differences – and compromise

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  • Thinking about our political differences – and compromise

    Of course, political differences, including the aspects of power and governing, originate within culture derived from social, economic, and religious beliefs. Without considering the merits of any divisive political issues, listing some issues will aid in starting the thinking process about our differences.

    Seminal divisive political issues include:

    Military strength and spending
    Deployment of the military
    Economic growth
    Government regulations
    Free enterprise
    Free markets
    Demand side economics
    Supply side economics
    Job creation policy
    Can federal tax rates stimulate or depress the economy?
    Tax breaks or tax loop holes
    Balanced federal budget or deficit spending
    Distribution of wealth
    Trade policy – free trade or tariffs
    Foreign aid
    United Nations

    Funding Planned Parenthood
    Same sex marriage
    Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare)
    Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and food stamps.
    Relationship between race and unwed mothers
    Police immunity
    Equal justice
    Police bias
    Court system bias
    Racial profiling
    Relationship between race, immigration, and crime
    Public Education
    Relationship between race and education or race and poverty
    Social Security
    Veterans' Administration programs
    Federal employee and military retirement plans
    Unemployment compensation
    Agricultural price support programs.
    Political PACs
    Gun Laws

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Entitlements or Welfare:
    Whether a federal government program is welfare or not is disputed.

    Originally, the term "entitlement" in the United States was used to identify federal programs that, like Social Security and Medicare, got the name because workers became "entitled" to their benefits by paying into the system. Some federal programs are also considered entitlements even though the subscriber's "paying into the system" occurs via a means other than monetary, as in the case of those programs providing for veterans' benefits, and where the individual becomes eligible via service in the U.S. military. Some would label these programs as socialism while others would say they are citizen paid for benefits.

    In recent years the meaning of the term "entitlement" has also been used to refer to benefits which people become eligible to receive without paying into a system or “entitled” just because they are in the United States. These programs are properly termed welfare or public assistance.

    Welfare or public assistance programs include:

    Payments by the federal government to people who do not owe any income tax - Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit administered by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

    Food stamps - Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) administered by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

    Payments by the federal government for free or reduced price meals – Child nutrition provides school lunch, breakfast and after school programs for children from low-income households administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

    Payments by the federal government or actual product for healthy food to pregnant women and children up to five years of age. WIC stands for Women, Infants and Children and is available to low-income households. It is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

    Housing assistance – administered by Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

    Payments by the federal government to low income seniors over age 65 and people with disabilities - Supplemental Security Income (SSI) administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

    Medicaid – is a federal government insurance program for persons of all ages whose income and resources are insufficient to pay for health care. It is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

    Education grants – Pell Grants by the Department of Education to distribute up to $5,550 to students from low-income households to promote postsecondary education (colleges and trade schools) administered by the United States Department of Education (ED or unofficially DoED).

    Payments by the federal government to low-income households with the goal of moving individuals from welfare to work - Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) administered by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

    Job Training Programs – Administered by the Department of Labor (DOL) to provide job training, displacement and employment services generally targeting low-income American.

    Pre-school program available to kids from low-income families. Head Start is administered by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

    Child Care - Federal block grant program to states and local public and private agencies who administer child care programs to low-income families. It is administered by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

    Payment of utility bills – This is a program to aid low-income households that pay a high proportion of household income for home energy, either heating or cooling a residential dwelling. Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is administered by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

    Discounted phone service, including cell phones, to low-income individuals. The Lifeline program is administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

    Apart from personal morality which no longer seems to be a requirement for politicians, the above is a partial list of seminal issues which determine political differences, labels and divisiveness.


    Every one, both liberal and conservative, has a particular prevalence of ideas (hierarchy of choices) which govern their political positions. In this sense, the liberal and conservative are both idealist. Their differences are in the relative importance of specific values and whether the ideas are considered absolute or relative. (Note: Liberal and conservative are used in a general sense of right and left of center.) What is it which determines political differences are ones values? It is not that some have values and others do not, but it is the hierarchy of values. Does one value have more importance than another?

    Compromise: What makes compromise possible or impossible?

    If values derive from a religious doctrine or any source of external authority, also as in legislation, it is difficult for such a position to compromise without inducing the feeling of immorality. This is the conservative. The conservative voter sees a politician who agrees to a compromise as being immoral or abandoning his principles – principles which are absolute. A conservative politician voting for the legalization of abortion during specific times of pregnancy or under specific conditions, even if the law limits abortion on demand, could be seen as abandoning his principles.

    If the values derive from a personal conviction or a rational thought process of right and wrong, it is more likely the value may be compromised to attain a partial implementation through legislation. A partial implementation is seen as an application of the values without being an abandonment of the idea. This is the liberal. The liberal voter sees any implementation of the value as positive. So, a liberal politician voting for limiting abortion on demand but allowing the legalization of abortion during specific times of pregnancy or under specific conditions could be seen as voting his principles.

    Therefore, the liberal and conservative politician might vote for a law for opposite reasons. However, the liberal politician would find approval by the liberal constituent while the conservative would be seen as abandoning conservative principles.

    Depending upon whether authority derives from an absolute authority or from a relative authority or opinion will determines the ability to accept compromise. This is why the very conservative Republicans have shut down the federal government by not approving a budget which funds programs considered contrary to their values.

    Besides the politician who votes his ideas or principles, there is the self serving politician who votes for his own benefit. For most voters the word politician carries with it the idea that politicians will vote there own interest or “pocket book.” Citizens have to search no farther than the congressional insurance and retirement plans to find this egregious behavior.

    Should politicians compromise?

    The answer to this question depends entirely upon what the constituent sees as the role of the politician. If the role of the politician is to educe a functional, fair and just government, then compromise would seem expedient. However, to the contrary, if the role of the politician is to establish moral polices and laws which support his values, then the use of any means would seem justifiable except supporting what is considered an immoral law. These differences are determined by a hierarchy of values derived from either a relative or absolute source of authority.

    Compromise is an essential element of every positive relationship. Any compromise may range from the insignificant to the momentous for one or the other of the parties. This dynamic in relationships applies to friends, families, neighbors, communities, municipalities, all the way up to nations and might address everything from what game one chooses to play to international treaties. The American government is hindered because political compromise has become an action that may defeat the politician at the polls.

    To be able to reinstate the possibility of compromise the root forces driving this abandonment of compromise must be discovered and changed. Foremost in this examination must be the idea of “a principle about an issue.” A principle about an issue has been equated with values, morality, ethics, doctrine, and ideology. It is only when the principal is held to be more important than any other value or virtue that it becomes an impasse to compromise.

    Any of the current issues of gun laws, state sanctioning of homosexual unions, ruling by the court on abortions, undocumented workers and immigration, or US military involvement in foreign nations demonstrate how each side of the issue select virtues and values they believe are the most important.

    Hierarchy of Choices

    Trust is a virtue that may be weighed against “some principle concerning an issue.” Trust includes responsibility, integrity, faithfulness, authority, loyalty, dependability, and openness.

    Other virtues that may be weighed against “some principle concerning an issue” are purity and empathy (caring).

    Some values that may be weighed against “some principle concerning an issue” are presumed rights which include life, freedom, liberty, property, justice, and fairness.

    From these values and virtues (and many more) a moral hierarchy is imagined to represent “some principle about an issue.”
    Is responsibility or rights of greater value?
    Is justice or empathy of greater value?
    Is authority or freedom of greater value?
    Is integrity or fairness of greater value?
    Is justice or life of greater value?
    Is purity or liberty of greater value?

    Such a hierarchy of choices about values are endless and each choice will be measured against the other choices to establish as value system one uses in deciding about issues.

    If the determined hierarchy of values are associated with “some principle about an issue” to such a degree that the principle becomes the high moral ground, then an impasse arises. The high moral ground is determined by which virtues and values are relative more important to a person. Accordingly, opposite sides of an issue come to believe their position represents the high moral ground. We see the extreme cases of this in the Israeli Palestinian conflict (international relations) and in abortion (personal behavior).

    Political Action Committees: One of many causes

    But how has American politics approached the same radicalization as the Middle East? One major stimulus has been the political action committees (PACS). A given PAC is focused on a select number of issues or even one issue for which it raises money for advertizing its propaganda. Such advertizing is not even editorial but opinionated in its message to effect the mind of voters. Some principle about the issue is marketed in a virtuous absolute sense of value which elevates the principle to the most important issue. Such persuasion attracts politicians who may get elected on the specific issue(s). If elected, it becomes incumbent on the politician to introduce bills and vote for the issues since both the PAC and the voter is focused upon the politician’s voting record. Compromise is not seen as an attempt to gain some aspects of the position passed into law but, it is seen as an issue of principle – of moral and virtue im porputude.


    It is the marketplace driven by profits or money that determines what is aired and published. Once a society’s rhetoric has polarized on a number of high profile issues, rather than on free and open dialogue aimed at a political compromise, national disintegration or civil war might be the only remaining paths. Our national debate is in need of free and open dialogue aimed at a political compromise - not just unconditional surrender. However, it appears this kind of debate and political compromise is only possible between those who hold to the same moral absolutes or moral relativity.

    A significant part of our society has no moral absolutes which has formerly enabled this debate and compromise. The only time in our history when we were divided by these moral absolutes it resulted in civil war. Without disputing the morality of one or the other of the opposing political positions, such a dichotomy is political insoluble. Are our choices limited to civil war, political disintegration, or a significant change in either one or the other’s polarized positions? What is probable?

    November 2016 the old scribe

  • #2
    Of course, my post of 3rd May 2017 assumes if there is any hope there can be found reasonable and honest men.
    This assumption might be completely without any foundation.


    • #3
      Lou's several posts of A.W. Tozer’'s writings, and particularly the last one has me thinking about several things. My brother is also exhorted by Tozer'’s writings as doubtlessly are a number of others. I have read The Pursuit of God and bios and incidents of his life and very much admire his accomplishments. Tozer'’s writings are insightful and meaningful for me, but I do not find them as inspirational as my favorite books.

      These differences in what believers find inspirational, etc. are what interests me. Works which I and others find inspirational are not so esteemed by some other believers. I am suggesting, at a spiritual level, these differences exposes our different needs and at a mental or psychological level may expose how we process language differently.

      I suspect language is processed differently because of brain structure, but not brain structure alone. Axiology* must impact the value each individual places upon particular words and ways of thinking. There are several social scientists measuring the individual’s relative hierarchy of a given set of values. Depending upon the given set of values, how much importance an individual places on a value compared to the other values will group individuals of similar values together. These groups when questioned as to their political, social, and religious preferences will be found to be philosophical similar. Even their belief about their own dependence upon emotional, intuitive, or rational thinking can be grouped from what they consider most valuable out of a given set of values concerning decision making, education, intelligence, reason, science, faith and God.

      So it may be, that how A.W. Tozer’'s writings impact us may be more about us than it is about him. However, this is not intended to say his writings are diminished in any way just because some receive less of a benefit from them.

      It may also be why the following examples have been so very popular among the masses while others have rejected their teaching as well as that of most motivational speakers.

      Norman Vincent Peale - Power of Positive thinking
      Bill Gothard - Institute in Basic Life Principles
      Zig Zigler – See You at the Top
      Rick Warren – The Purpose Driven Life
      Joel Osteen - Your Best Life Now

      Recognizing there are aspects of not being a Zig Ziggler or a Billy Graham which limits ones appeal to most people is also the recognition of ones limited ability to influence or impact others – probably for the reasons above and in my case, because of ones own limited abilities as a presenter or preacher. This is the essence of what thinking about Tozer has reminded me and reminded me of the impetus for stopping the construction work for several Bible studies. It doesn’t really matter how well the studies are presented there will be no impact.

      All my major Bible studies were thought to be projects that would benefit believers. In the past couple of years there has been an increasingly awareness that my efforts are futile for a variety of reasons. Part of becoming aware of this is the experience of several on line forums. I am shocked at how poorly Christians communicate. Many can only understand what they are thinking and not what was written. The number of posts that are made just trying to say they are right, the entrenched non biblical ideas, the lack of objectivity, the lack of ministry, the lack of any attempts at a constructive Bible study, the unwillingness to learn, and on and on. There are a few who attempt to express Christian charity but they usually end up being hijacked by the others. This whole process has added to the comprehension of my inability to have an impact – Tozer just inticed me to revisit these thoughts, and I thought you might find my view point intriguing on why people receive and value material differently.

      *Axiology is the study of values
      Last edited by glen smith; June 25, 2017, 04:48 PM.