Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Government and Compromise: How Important Is It?

To what extent is compromise necessary for government to meet the expectations of its citizens? Explain your answer using examples from Constitution-writing process in the Founding Period of American history and from your reading of current affairs.

Throughout the history of the United States, opposing forces have often butted heads in order to get what they want.  The only successful solution to these issues came from compromise.  In fact, compromise is one of the few ways that a government can meet the expectations of its citizens.  We can see this during America’s Constitutional period as well as today’s “Arab Spring.” 
            During the drafting of the Constitution, federalists and anti-federalists fought over how much power to give to the central government.  The anti-federalists wanted the states to have a lot of power respectively, but this was tried out with the Articles of Confederation, which resulted in failure.  James Madison wanted to compromise with the proposition of the Virginia Plan, which revoked the Articles of Confederation and gave more power to the central government.  The anti-federalists worried that a strong central government could become too powerful and result in the corrupted ways of a British monarchy.  Madison preempted these concerns by focusing on two main points of his plan: checks and balances.  First of all, he would include judicial and executive branches in addition to the legislative branch.  All of these components required approval from the others before enacting certain bills/laws, so there would be a homogeneous distribution of power.  Secondly, a bicameral national legislature comprised of the Senate and the House of Representatives would check each other’s power because the former’s members would be elected by state legislature while the latter’s by popular vote.  The New Jersey Plan aimed at a compromise to increase federal power with a unicameral legislature, but the Great Compromise (Connecticut Compromise) settled the issue with accordance to Madison’s plan.  On another issue, slave states wanted slaves to count for the population in order to increase their representation in government, but anti-slave states thought this would be unfair.  Ultimately, the 3/5 Compromise appeased everyone by only counting slaves fractionally in pertinence to the population.  This series of compromises made during the Constitutional phase of America clearly shows their necessity in order to be successful. 
            Secondly, today’s riots in the Middle East potently show the necessity to compromise.  Authoritarian leaders and dictators that once ruled unquestioned are now being bombarded by requests for freedom and equality.  The rulers held strong for a while, but they soon relented willingly in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen.  The first two are on their way to becoming successful democracies.  The issue in The Middle East as a whole lies in the fact that compromise is not a traditional means of problem resolution because dictators have ruled unconditionally for so long.  The citizens are now realizing the innumerable human rights abuses they have endured and want to fight back.  We can see that the governments that are unwilling to compromise are actually failing, such as in Syria.  Success is only prevalent where revolutions have overthrown dictators and interim governments have begun negotiating with the citizens.  Clearly, current events in the Middle East prove the necessity of compromise.
            In conclusion, in order for governments to be successful, there needs to be compromise because it is only in human nature for there to be clash among opposing parties.  Compromise is the only means to a solution that benefits everybody, as is demonstrated in America’s Constitution and the riots in the “Arab Spring” today.

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