1) a settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification of demands.
So much for Thursday. Friday the Blizzard of 2010 began. Charlie and I settled in. We'd already stocked up on food at the grocery store and on books and videos at the library. Yesterday, we ate, read, took naps. We watched the snow and talked about how beautiful it is where we live. During the evening we watched a BBC drama about Vichy France. It was a very contented, feel-good day. We slept well.
It's now Saturday morning. We have to face up to reality: At some point the snow will stop falling. It's time to think about digging out, which will entail a lot of hard work. Charlie stood out on the front porch and photographed our challenge:
If that's not graphic enough, here's the car I need to drive to work day-after-tomorrow.
As I'm a political animal, I naturally found a political metaphor in the Blizzard of 2010.
As long as the now falls, it's like an election. It's okay to just cut loose and feel during an election. The whole process is fueled by rhetoric and emotion. Compared to the work of governing, elections are right much fun. We don't have to find a way to effectively get things done. We know there is hard work ahead, but it's work we can't even get started on until the votes are counted.
Whenever the snow stops it will be like actual governance. It will be the time hard work actually begins. Blizzard-wise, Charlie and I have already set a goal--we want to dig out enough by Monday morning so that I can go to work. Or at least get out of our driveway. Before we can accomplish that we know we will both be cold, wet, tired, and hungry, but that's okay because we're determined to accomplish that goal. If we just stay warm, dry, rested, and well-fed inside, any goal-setting we do becomes empty rhetoric.
Steven Pearlstein had a very interesting column in yesterday's Washington Post. Its title, "The myth of Washington bipartisanship and the art of true compromise." About half-way through the column is this paragraph:
The only way a democratic system like ours can work is if the majority party acknowledges that winning an election means winning the right to set the agenda and put the first proposal on the table, though not the right to get everything it wants. By the same logic, if members of the minority party want to influence that policy, they have to understand that it will require them to accept some things they don't like to get some things they do.Compromise is not very glamorous or feel-good, but it is what fuels the real work of governance. And I would suggest that it's fondness for (addiction to?) empty, inflammatory rhetoric that largely fuels Washington's failures in the compromise department. Isn't uninformed, argumentative, political nonsense what we respond to? Aren't we loathe to trade the emotional buzz we get from political anger, for the quiet accomplishments of compromise?
It does seem to me today, as I think about shoveling vast amounts of this beautiful snow, that governance really is somewhat like a blizzard. Both are amusingly dramatic, but both bring with them a lot of hard work that we avoid at our own peril.