In a word: compromise.
Now, compromise is often a good thing. I’m all for bi-partisanship. I want a candidate and a president who’s truly willing to look at all sides of an issue and accept that the other party’s point of view might be the right one. I don’t want a candidate who simply panders to the left or the right, and I actually appreciate Obama’s willingness to buck many members of his own party with his recent vote on the FISA bill, as an example.
I’m all for having “no red states and no blue states, but only the United States.”
But then there’s compromise that just seems spineless in a particularly Democrat kind of way, and that’s what I feel like I witnessed this week.
Barack Obama recently took a few steps back from his stance against expanding offshore oil drilling, saying:
If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well-thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage – I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done.
This is a compromise that seems transparently political. Obama’s lead over McCain has all but evaporated over the last week, and polls indicate that the candidates’ opposing views on oil drilling is a key factor. Obama’s move toward the Republican position on oil drilling, therefore, seems like a calculated attempt to neutralize McCain in this one area where he seems to have shown some strength, rather than a sincere effort to reach bi-partisan consensus. It is, “the same old politics” as Obama himself might say.
The problem with this particular compromise is that Obama has professed to agree with virtually all the experts on this issue (including spokesmen from the major oil companies) who say that expanding offshore drilling will have no effect on fuel prices until at least 2017, and little effect even then. This is the truth, and Obama knows it.
So this compromise feels political. It feels like pandering.
It takes quite a bit of courage for a candidate to stand up for the truth when it means telling people what they don’t want to hear, and Obama has made himself out to be the rare Democrat who has that kind of courage. Obama should tell people the truth. He should make a vigorous, passionate case for the truth.
The Republicans have succeeded in clouding the truth on this issue, and Obama’s response should be to clear away the clouds, to shine a bright light on the truth. Instead, he has chosen to accept the clouds.
My belief is that this kind of compromise is what has killed the Democratic Party. When you compromise on everything, then you stand for everything. And when you stand for everything, you stand for nothing.
And when you stand for nothing, then you don’t really give voters an alternative to what the other party offers.
And come election time, if you don’t offer an alternative to what the other party offers, then the people who don’t want to vote for the other party will simply stay home.