Today, in this world we hear that democracy is based on the heart of compromise, or coming to accord between two sides. The word 'compromise' itself has many meanings as the Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) via die.net shows:
Compromise \Com"pro*mise\, n. [F. compromis, fr. L. compromissum
a mutual promise to abide by the decision of an arbiter, fr.
compromittere to make such a promise; com- + promittere to
promise. See Promise.]
1. A mutual agreement to refer matters in dispute to the
decision of arbitrators. [Obs.] --Burrill.
2. A settlement by arbitration or by mutual consent reached
by concession on both sides; a reciprocal abatement of
extreme demands or rights, resulting in an agreement.
But basely yielded upon compromise That which his
noble ancestors achieved with blows. --Shak.
All government, indeed every human benefit and
enjoyment, every virtue and every prudent act, is
founded on compromise and barter. --Burke.
An abhorrence of concession and compromise is a
never failing characteristic of religious factions.
3. A committal to something derogatory or objectionable; a
prejudicial concession; a surrender; as, a compromise of
character or right.
I was determined not to accept any fine speeches, to
the compromise of that sex the belonging to which
was, after all, my strongest claim and title to
Thus we have the concept of a arbitrator creating a compromise, two points of view coming to mutual consent by both sides or even the compromise of integrity, character or rights where one's standards are imputed or found not to be upheld by one's actions. In the normal course of affairs this often winds up at the point of what Ambose Bierce wrote in THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY:
COMPROMISE, n. Such an adjustment of conflicting interests as gives each adversary the satisfaction of thinking he has got what he ought not to have, and is deprived of nothing except what was justly his due.
Yes, this last one often comes to the forefront of 'compromise' after a deal when both sides realize that they have thought that they had made a shrewd deal, to get what they thought impossible and overlooked keeping what was basic to not having a compromise of integrity. This is the 'grabbing for the goodies' while not realizing that one's pocket has been picked in doing so, and that one comes away with ephemeral 'good' while lacking the stand of saying that they had not compromised their ideals.
In democracy the ideal is that political compromised is worked out by this class of being known as 'politicians', who work their ends to represent a philosophical view of government and then utilize that view to draft or amend legislation that will then instantiate new laws. As views on what a democracy can and should do will differ, differing viewpoints will come to a 'compromise' on vital legislation which is often aimed to achieve that latter view of 'compromise' while claiming to adhere to the first, which was an amicable bridging of positions to reach common accord.
That process of compromise represents how a diverse set of political ideals can come to common basis for government by stripping out verbiage that is found objectionable for governing via the law. If compromise is a bridge built between philosophical ideals of government, that bridging often comes with much of the base ideal removed via compromise and, sometimes, a new place for the bridging to happen that is less far removed from each side and needing less of the philosophical underpinnings of the original. That is why we get 'alternatives' in legislation both via amendment and by new proposal to supercede an older one under discussion.
This process, when it builds such a bridge of legislation, has the effect of each side removing the objectionable material from the original and paring it down to its most basic of views on what is good law for the majority. For this all laws and how they are worked out must be under the direction of legislators and only rarely is it feasible that any third party can create the instantiation of law outside of the democratic institution of representative government. As looked at previously democracy, itself, can have multiple different ways of running, but the underlying concept is that law, in whole, is from the creation of democratically representative individuals so as to keep the number and depth of laws few. That is law made of, by and for the people with those representatives and their guiding philosophical views held to account when liberty and freedom are restricted against the will of the people.
Negotiation to get to good implementation of the law is a safeguard of liberty and rights. It is very difficult to have to highly differing views come to accord so as to create law, but that is the task that those seeking such offices are looking to do. At the end of it is government that is neither easy nor efficient, but is highly accountable to common accord and, often, ridicule as the rarified arguments on creating the substantial basis for government out of philosophy can sound absurd. Ideologues, then, are individuals who are strident in their views, and rarely willing to give up their views for compromise. Yet they often form the basis for 'keeping government honest' so that it will not over-ride democratic principles as seen from that ideologues' perspective. From that getting a unanimous vote on nearly any substantive piece of legislation is nearly impossible. By having such proud and staid individuals, however, the actual views of the party are kept secure and these same individuals insure that those are not brokered away without protest.
What is anathema to democracy, however, is to make blind law to be instantiated by non-democratic institutions. This is the vaunted 'Third Way' of politics as seen from this generation and has direct ties to the investment of the organs of the State run by 'experts' to come to the best 'policy' for instantiating law. By this methodology legislators are left off the hook for actually instantiating law, that is creating the nuts and bolts of it, and create, instead, bureaucratic framework of law to enforce regulations created by the organs of government. The first 120 years or so of US history was based on the former way of doing things, so that the legislative branch would not be giving power to the executive branch to draft the implementation of law without legislative oversight for its creation. When we speak of 'classical liberal' rights of the individual safeguarded against tyranny, the method of direct accountability is that safeguard. The role of the executive branch, that is to say the day-to-day administrative part of government, was to enforce law by statute and not create regulations save as a way to give orderly process to the administrative tasks of government.
When it is pointed out that 2/3 of all federal regulations have been created since 1970, this is an indictment of the democratic process creating administrative government that has become too large and unwieldy for direct accountability by the legislative branch. Even the most investigative-happy legislature, being the current one in office in early 2008, cannot even come close to its role of oversight and accountability to spending of the funds procured by the legislative branch. What is amazing is that for the vast temptation for administrative government, that is the bureaucrats running government, to over-step their bounds and utilize their power to their own ends, this has happened in only a few organs of government over the last 100 years. The ethical ideal of government by people volunteering to be in that administrative side has only succumbed to pushing by the legislative and by corrupt Presidents to over-step the full bounds of government and accrue power directly to bureaucracy. Thus, when a real investigation needs to take place, we stand in a stupor at what power we have handed frail humans to oversee the day to day workings of government and marvel that they can be *caught at abusing it*.
The shift from laws as fully enunciated by Congress to ones given framework and implemented by bureaucrats has been a long, slow process in the name of 'expediency'. Democracy is a slow, inefficient process not amenable to sudden swings and changes, beyond those necessary to keep the Nation alive and intact. Long-term government is inefficient and prone to stasis. At the end of the 19th century that was the common complaint about representative democracy in the US, due not only to the restrictions placed upon it by the constitution preventing direct, non-proportional taxation but for the active means the States had of preventing federal government from working: many States did not send Senators to the Senate.
In the multiple interlocking system of checks and balances of the US Constitution, the States were given a high degree of internal autonomy within the Union and given the capability to keep National government restricted. Of these checks and balances against National government, the two that stood out was the gathering of taxes and appointing Senators. Thus the needs of the National government were apportioned to the States via the population of the States so that they could collect their portion to cover all of the people equally. The call to non-proportionate and direct taxation was a strong one and ran into the founder's prohibition of that in the Constitution. Congress could tax many other things via imposts, tariffs and the such, but direct taxation of individuals and corporations was prohibited. By needing to delegate that the the States, the Constitution sought to ensure that government of equality that would treat everyone the same would be accomplished. This was not meant to be 'fair' but 'equal' government. If the States wished to levy disproportionate taxes upon the rich in their State, they could do so. This kept personal taxation at a lower means, so that accountability could be higher and more direct.
The Statehouses, often locked in internal debates and problems particular to their State, often did not send individuals to the Senate and actually getting a quorum to do any business was difficult for the National government. This problem required that the National government actually contact the States to remind them of their role in the entire Nation and send a representative for their State to the Senate. That was how the system was supposed to work, so that the National government reflected the organic ability and rights of the States to chart separate ways within the Union and have a government that reflected their needs as such units. Both of these things were railed at by the Progressive movement that wanted a more active and 'fair' government that would 'meet the needs of the modern times'. With advances in science, technology, and economy, the Progressives sought to create a new and progressive government system that would do away with the older, constitutional system of individual rights and liberty. This was done in the name of 'fairness' to the common man, not 'equality' of all men under government.
To accomplish this those that followed Progressive styled doctrine, be it from the Socialist left or right, helped to establish 'fairness' above 'equality' in the minds of the people in the Union and to start pressing those changes forward to government so that a 'new era' of government that was efficient could be achieved. It is that very 'efficiency' that the Constitution of the US was an obstacle to achieving, due to its removal via federalist doctrine, of restricting just what the National government could or could not do. This first era of Progressivism would shake the foundations of the US constitutional system to its core by radically altering the power of the States by reducing them, and increasing the power of the National government via taxation and the first giving of powers to bureaucrats to implement larger law frameworks. This was the 'New Nationalism' of the sort where Progressive social and Christian doctrine with views to 'civilize' the world by carrying 'The White Man's Burden' would be put forward by unifying the the people with the State.
From this first era came restrictions on medication, direct taxation of the individual by the National government, enforced patriotism, and, during WWI, the first use of police powers to incarcerate those that would not follow political doctrine. That first era would culminate in Statist control at the extreme with the prohibition of alcohol, which was denounced by the temperance movement and seen by Christians as a social evil at the root of many ills. In the decade following that, expanded National police powers to enforce that Amendment would be necessary as organized crime flourished in providing an ancient cultural consumable with deep links in society. That attempt to make people act *good* by punishing the use of a drink by individuals created a problem far worse and far deeper than the original problem.
For the first time, ever, the power of the State had a demonstrated hard and fast limit to its powers: not in denying liberty but in trying to deny libation.
Even worse is that this was done in a popular mode to make a societal good, that of temperance, into an over-arching coercion to break traditional views of how to use one's liberty and responsibility for imbibing of liquor. While pushing such a restriction to set within the Constitution a view of what is good for individuals *not* to do, it was a blatant attempt to enforce 'everyone else' to do such good while forgetting that it would also apply to oneself. The extreme demonization of alcohol, from that period, sounds suspiciously like the justifications used to denounce medications that can be addictive and have mood and mind altering effects. Those laws started prior to the enactment of Prohibition, but along the pathways of normal lawmaking, not in attempting to dictate behavioral restriction via constitutional means. Both of these removed personal responsibility from the equation of how and when to use such things and attempted to not only place punishment but extreme punishment on those that transgressed these dicta. Up until the era of the Progressives, there had been no over-arching National law on either medications or alcohol, those being left up to local authority.
What is worrying, and extremely so, is not that this form of 'doing good' view can go to the extreme of Amendment, but that it can stay as a government, social and societal ill for so long without being repealed. Prior to the temperance era alcohol use had been changing, gradually, from that of hard liquor consumption to such things as beer, but that the overall amounts had also been lessening over time. This moderation path from the time of the Revolution onwards pointed to a changing view of sobriety and inebriation within society without drastic and draconian measures to curb it. Indeed, the downward trend continued after the Prohibition era without the social castigation that went on prior to it: the drinking habits of the US population had been changing and continued to do so under the influence of personal responsibility.
It is this power of democracy to suddenly change from one of supporting liberty and drafting local law to address local problems to suddenly institute Nation based forms of moral constraint that is a prime concern of retaining personal freedom. While those pointing to the 'good things' done by Progressives, namely child labor laws and collective bargaining laws, to say that it was a 'good' era, they ignore that other Nations had done this without traversing into more restrictive and coercive means of government looking to gain more power to itself. While food purity laws are an outright good to the population, with many finding just how much laudanum was in cough syrup and being aghast at that, the further restriction of medications via taxation venues and then outright government control and restriction across the board is not only a diminution of personal responsibility but, along with Prohibition, served to super-charge what had been purely local or family based criminal problems into the transnational crime world we have today. That co-joining of Christian morality with Progressive views on the role of man losing himself to the State has caused this long term, deeply entrenched system of organized crime that now supports Private War groups seeking the overthrow of governments and, at the extreme, all Western culture.
These laws and outlooks were put in place *not* through the standard party-based dialogue of compromise, but by something we know, today, as 'The Third Way' of western culture represented not by the Monarchical State or the constitutional democratic State but by something that would attempt to cause a fusion between them using economic views with scientific trappings. That was started by those following socialism, particularly that of the First and Second Internationale, but also by those of the American Progressive strain, which used much of the views of the collective State to replace 'classical liberalism' with modern liberalism. This 'New Left', that adhered to Statist views, proposed (when they could be seen as proposing any coherent political view) a form of functional pragmatism to just 'make government work'. The credo of 'efficient government' and 'proactive government' come from that era and remain with us to this day, with many stating that democracy has, as its ends, 'efficiency'.
To get such efficiency, however, requires that democratic dialogue be ended on issues and that the State, as represented by the bureaucratic class, be given the final decisions to make. What was pushed was 'compromise' to get 'good laws' and then hand the actual bureaucratic regulation of these broad laws over to 'expert' bureaucrats. All of the federal regulations that we get are *not* voted upon, individually, by Congress and approved by the President. Instead Congress has given a form of 'pre-authorization' to allow bureaucrats to draft regulations with some review on the regulations, and then the test of those is in lawsuits, not by representative vote of Congress and approval of the President. Here the regulatory approval process has been made as a non-democratic adjunct to broader laws on the environment, health, safety, and, indeed, a wide scope of powers that National government has only gotten limited play in due to the limits of the Constitutional powers handed to such government. When we hear cries of 'Judicial Activism' it must first be seen that many of the regulations that cause such laws to be brought into question have had almost no public oversight on them. Even worse is that when an individual regulation comes up for review very often the law allowing it is not put under greater scrutiny and, by Judicial tradition, seen to be as legal until a complaint is made about it. Only when abuse becomes promiscuous does the Judicial branch take a look at the wider laws allowing individual regulations.
What this Third Way or Progressivism attempts to do is create a government of 'experts' to run the State in the most efficient way possible. This then shifts power and accountability from those who make the laws and into the bureaucrats who make the instances of the regulations to promulgate the laws given to them. These two, extremely disparate ways of doing things, the societal coercive form via laws to restrict activities to enforce morality and bureaucratic efficiency to create regulations that would be created because legislators wanted to feel that they 'did something' and then hand the hard work of that doing to bureaucrats, are both aimed to shift more power to the National government and remove democratic input from government administration of such laws. This became so endemic after the first Progressive wave from 1900-1920 and the second wave spanning the term of FDR, that the idea that there should be a law about *any* behavior that one did not like turned into a quip: "There ought to be a law..."
In point of fact, no, there should not be a 'law' about those doing things you do not like so long as the health and safety of others is not put at jeopardy. Even then, attempting to mandate responsible behavior becomes the equivalent of mandating morality, which has cost the US far more than it has ever saved in souls, lives or just plain old cash. And that is *just* by organized crime. Whenever the cry of 'restrict this' or 'restrict that' because it is a moral 'good' or that it 'helps this group or that group' is given, we hear the voice of authoritarianism raised to mandate how people should act in accordance with the views of a minority to a majority or even a majority upon a minority. Somehow the 'good' of 'small business set asides' soon slips into 'corporate welfare' of businesses that span the globe. The 'good' of welfare no longer encourages self-reliance or self-responsibility but transforms into dependency of individuals upon the State, just like the underclasses in ancient Rome to breads and circuses. These are not the voices of charity quietly asking for help, but the voices of those that would profess to be an authority or expert telling you that you must give help via governmental channels. Coerced giving via taxation is, however, not 'charity' but is, instead, authoritarian in telling you that government knows more about charity than you do and is better able to oversee it than you will ever be.
Personally, coming from work inside the federal government and having to examine government efficiency, I can say that the government is possibly the least efficient way to get anything done. Having to read the cold, hard numbers on efficiency, or how many hours you spend at productive work, across industry and government, the very best that government can do (at 65% efficient) does not even begin to compare to the industrial average (80% efficient time expenditure). Thus a minimum of 1/3 of the funds of government are spent in 'overhead time' of filling out forms, paperwork and non-productive time doing things not directly related to getting a job done. That is the end result of decades of putting more and more laws creating more bureaucracy and overhead upon government by those with Progressive or Third Way views: actual administration of government functions are costly, time consuming and horrifically inefficient.
Yes, the very things that those looking to hand more to the government do under the rubric of 'efficiency' ends up making any problem *worse* by doing so. That is what happens when bureaucracy, especially on the National level, increases - it gets harder to manage and control, and those things put in to try and create control eat up more time. This comes about because bureaucratic problems, such as keeping a level service across all parts of an organization, get compounded by the laws governing employment at the National level along with multiple layers of bureaucracy above the purely local office. To justify its existence it must have demonstrable things that it does, thus creating more 'worker programs' or 'oversight controls' allow for 'metrics' to be captured while the main metric of efficient government goes ever downwards. There are only a given number of work hours in a day and requiring any portion of any day or week for things like timecards, 'training' or 'support projects' takes a quantifiable amount of time. Regularize them and make them monthly, weekly or daily and time further gets eroded, so that a simple task of an 'office meeting' amongst 20 people can last for more than its allotted hour and often stretch to two or three times that much so that information can be passed within an office. Thus that three hours is 7.5% of the time of a week spent in a *meeting* and has already dropped the time left in the week to do work to 92.5%.
This becomes an important part of Statist views as the government, inefficient at best and never reaching up to the vaunted levels of competency that any Statist would want, then becomes the repository for further programs to try out new social agendas in an attempt to 'streamline' or 'make efficient' the individuals by 'training' them. Mandatory training is a form of indoctrination that never quite catches-on because it is widely seen as 'a waste of time'. Yet, these very programs are supported by legislation drafted by Congress for federal workforce oversight, which leads to the strange castigation by Congressmen when finding out that something vital, like a VA hospital, is not well run and then wanting to publicize it... and ignore their role in drafting the legislation that caused the problems in the first place. One cannot vote government to competence or efficiency, no matter how much legislation is passed on that, because the more 'oversight' that is given the less 'efficient' the entire system becomes. That this outcome has happened should be no surprise to anyone, but that it happened over decades in a spirit of 'bipartisanship' actually does surprise a few.
Because democracy requires that the least amount be done via legislation to allow for basic functions to be performed by government, when a 'bipartisan' agreement to make an overarching view into law happens, so as to enact some 'good' viewpoint, it is that very act that makes things worse at the start. Without removal of those things that are oppressive, say requiring 'workforce education' in some societal realm, because it is involuntary for the workforce and creates non-productive time, both sides get to point to a 'good' thing done to push societal views and yet the ills of mis-spent time and that these individuals volunteered to serve all the people is pushed to the side. When this form of legislating is performed, not only does more power accrue to the State, but the State becomes less able to handle those things it already has. And as Congress is the source of these problems and believes that competency and efficiency and 'good social behavior' can be mandated by law, they are deeply and profoundly surprised when it doesn't do so.
Which is, of course, remedied by a new law...
The end result of this Third Way is the accumulation of power to the State, managed incompetently, inefficiently and in a bureaucratic manner upon the people of the Nation. By being able to create regulations with minimal 'public feedback', bureaucrats are then put into the fine decision making process that was supposed to be the sole oversight of the legislative branch. This is handing power from the legislative to the bureaucratic and is a function of any Empire that has no firm, stable, long-term ruler to it. While Imperial China would lose many wars, the bureaucracy never changed and continued on its administrative details until the entire system collapsed. The power of nobles to decide anything was hinged upon the bureaucratic support, and without it nothing could be accomplished. The Sun Emperors changed, but their ability to wield the power of China was restricted by those that had control over the bureaucrats: the were necessary to administer such a large expanse by hand.
Not only was this a worry at the founding, but an extreme one: no Republic of the size of the 13 colonies had ever existed for long before turning into something far less republican and democratic. Thus from Federal Farmer, No. 17, 23 JAN 1788:
- I have often heard it observed, that our people are well informed, and will not submit to oppressive governments; that the state governments will be their ready advocates, and possess their confidence, mix with them, and enter into all their wants and feelings. This is all true; but of what avail will these circumstances be, if the state governments, thus allowed to be the guardians of the people, possess no kind of power by the forms of the social compact, to stop, in their passage, the laws of congress injurious to the people. State governments must stand and see the law take place; they may complain and petition — so may individuals; the members of them, in extreme cases, may resist, on the principles of self-defence — so may the people and individuals.
It has been observed, that the people, in extensive territories, have more power, compared with that of their rulers, than in small states. Is not directly the opposite true? The people in a small state can unite and act in concert, and with vigour; but in large territories, the men who govern find it more easy to unite, while people cannot; while they cannot collect the opinions of each part, while they move to different points, and one part is often played off against the other.
- It has been asserted, that the confederate head of a republic at best, is in general weak and dependent; — that the people will attach themselves to, and support their local governments, in all disputes with the union. Admit the fact: is it any way to remove the inconvenience by accumulating powers upon a weak organization? The fact is, that the detail administration of affairs, in this mixed republic, depends principally on the local governments; and the people would be wretched without them: and a great proportion of social happiness depends on the internal administration of justice, and on internal police. The splendor of the monarch, and the power of the government are one thing. The happiness of the subject depends on very different causes: but it is to the latter, that the best men, the greatest ornaments of human nature, have most carefully attended: it is to the former tyrants and oppressors have always aimed.
Tyranny does not start with attending to the social happiness outside of government, it is the attending to the power of government above that happiness using it as an excuse to grow power in government. Those wishing that power always attest that they are doing the social good, but somehow always seem to end up on the accrual of power side of things. James Madison in Federalist No. 53 of 09 FEB 1788 looked at the biennial elections and pointed out one flaw in the system which has now become omnipresent, which could not be foreseen at the time of the founding:
A few of the members, as happens in all such assemblies, will possess superior talents; will, by frequent reelections, become members of long standing; will be thoroughly masters of the public business, and perhaps not unwilling to avail themselves of those advantages. The greater the proportion of new members and the less the information of the bulk of the members, the more apt will they be to fall into the snares that may be laid for them. This remark is no less applicable to the relation which will subsist between the House of Representatives and the Senate.
It is an inconvenience mingled with the advantages of our frequent elections, even in single States, where they are large, and hold but one legislative session in a year, that spurious elections cannot be investigated and annulled in time for the decision to have its due effect. If a return can be obtained, no matter by what unlawful means, the irregular member, who takes his seat of course, is sure of holding it a sufficient time to answer his purposes. Hence, a very pernicious encouragement is given to the use of unlawful means for obtaining irregular returns. Were elections for the federal legislature to be annual this practice might become a very serious abuse, particularly in the more distant States. Each house is, as it necessarily must be, the judge of the elections, qualifications, and returns of its members; and whatever improvements may be suggested by experience for simplifying and accelerating the process in disputed cases, so great a portion of a year would unavoidably elapse before an illegitimate member could be dispossessed of his seat that the prospect of such an event would be little check to unfair and illicit means of obtaining a seat.
What could not be expected is that Congress would become a majority incumbent body, where all the members would have such a deep knowledge of government so as to utilize their seats to further gain more power. Thus when combining Federal Farmer No. 17 and Federalist No. 53 we get the pernicious effect of long standing incumbent members in the majority shifting the power structure to their wills to better represent their wishes. Not, necessarily, is it by superior talents that one wins re-election, and simply assuring that one's seat never gets a serious challenge via gerrymandering or partisan graft or such things as 'earmarks' can one start to see an entrenched government.
A 'bi-partisan' government.
One that reaches the Third Way of government to invest the State with power via perennially elected individuals who have little or no oversight on the actual bureaucracy.
That sort of government is not one that is democratic or protecting of the liberties of the people.
That is where it ends up, if you let it do so.