Editorial: Avoiding a standstill
October 15, 2011
At all levels — local, state and national — the electorate’s best interests are taking a back seat to political gridlock and bickering.
Politics is, by and large, the art of compromise.
But, you couldn't tell by looking at today's political landscape.
At the national level, gridlock has brought the wheels of government screeching to a standstill as Republicans and Democrats squabble over the federal budget. Only eleventh-hour deals have kept this country from plummeting into financial chaos.
The problem is a divided Congress. The GOP took control of the House in the 2010 election, while Democrats retained control over the Senate.
The situation is not much different at the state level.
Colorado has a Democratic governor and his party holds the majority in the Senate, while Republicans have the majority in the House.
Perhaps the lesson here is that the American political system works best if one party wields most of the power.
When that power is split, elected officials are free to play a political game of chicken, refusing to yield ground even as disaster looms.
But, there's a deeper meaning.
At its root, the problem isn't about partisanship. It's about the refusal to compromise and cooperate for the good of constituents.
And it's a problem at the local level, too.
The friction between the Craig City Council and Moffat County Commission isn't partisan, but it stands in the way of progress all the same.
The two entities haggled over negotiations regarding the Moffat County Public Safety Center for months before finally reaching an agreement. It wasn't the first time the two governing bodies have been at odds.
At the national and state levels, elected officials need to stop worrying about their political careers. They need to start taking bold moves toward compromise — even if it means sacrificing chances for re-election.
Here in Moffat County, the council and commission would do well to put their differences aside and cooperate.
The point of this editorial isn't to suggest that elected officials should breeze through important issues with no debate whatsoever. A certain amount of head-butting is natural and necessary to reaching the best decisions on public policy.
But, at some point, debate must yield to action. If elected leaders continue to hold constituents hostage to endless bickering, voters have the right to give them the pink slip and elect someone else.
Compromise in politics is rarely pleasing; nearly everyone involved walks away from the table with less than they wanted.
But, without it, everyone loses — especially the people these elected officials are supposed to serve.