WILLIAMS: Compromise cannot succeed without courage

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ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It’s tempting to simplify and view Washington, D.C., as the lair of three different types of people — Democrats, Republicans and, now, the ever-growing tea party faithful. Pundits and political scientists are prone to slide the actors of this political drama into these three columns. When you know where one sits, it’s easier to understand where they will stand on the issues of the day.

Yet when it comes to executing the decisions that matter, those that truly will affect this country for generations to come, another set of three comes to mind: Those who don’t know what’s happening, those who watch what’s happening and those who make things happen.

I won’t attempt to draw parallels among the three known political factions with those who do versus those who dawdle, for all bear some responsibility for seemingly waiting for something good to happen to them through no actions of their own. But let’s single out that specific category of “those who do” and determine what exactly it will take to turn any member of either party into a genuine catalyst for change.

I’ve studied the debt ceiling debate and the impending crisis around it for months now, and three key characteristics come to mind on what is needed to address and solve this intractable problem.

1) The first critical element to resolving any impasse dealing with spending the people’s money is compromise. As often as the term is tossed about, very few policymakers are willing to practice it, at least not when it comes to debt reduction. Notice how I did not use “consensus,” a word long viewed as the preferred term of lawmakers because it suggests that both sides moved to the middle without surrendering either side’s key agenda. Today, that can no longer be the case. We need true sacrifice if the country is to return to fiscal balance. Cuts, and deep ones at that, must be on the table and proffered by both sides. There are no sacred cows.

2) Compromise cannot succeed without the second principle — the courage to pursue that course of action, no matter the outcome. As long as re-election remains the proximate goal of elected officials, they never will place the best interests of the nation first. Re-election is about political survival. Making the cuts we need to make as a country is about political sacrifice.

3) Finally, those who do versus those who watch must establish a process of continuity. We didn’t create this debt overnight. And it will take years to eradicate it. Just look at Greece. Not even one year has passed since the European Union chose to bail out the country and Athens is not only failing to repay its obligations, it’s piling on new ones. The nations leaders thought this could be fixed quickly, but it cannot.

One thing is certain, the American people are growing tired of those who offer excuses for their inactivity. Earlier this month, a Washington Post poll asked which party Americans trust the most to address the country’s largest problems. A record 20 percent indicated that they put their faith in “neither” party, the highest percentage in more than three decades. One in five doesn’t trust either party to set aside its partisanship long enough to tackle the big issues. Hence, there is a need for people who are willing to check their party labels at the door and do what they think is best for their constituents, consequences be damned.

Keep in mind that courage without compromise is folly. It’s not enough to get tough with the issues; one must be willing not only to go after someone else’s ox but willing to place their own on the altar of fiscal discipline.

America is waiting for its next class of political heroes. And I sense those who step forward and answer the call will be remembered less as Republican or Democrat and more as someone who chose to stop watching the process and started transforming the process.

Armstrong Williams is on Sirius Power 128, 7 to 8 p.m. and 4 to 5 a.m., Monday through Friday. Become a fan on Facebook- www.facebook.com/arightside, and follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/arightside. Read his content on RightSideWire.com.

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