Sunday, October 12, 2014

If we hope to compromise, we must speak the same language

No one doubts that Congress has difficulty getting anything done these days, as partisan belligerence bubbles just below the boiling point year after year.

Has anyone considered that there might be a language barrier?

It's not that Hispanic or other ethnic groups have gained seats in Congress or that women have won seats and do not speak (or think) the same way as men or that northerners can't understand southerners' drawl or that wide-open westerners think differently than intellectual, crowded easterners.

The different factions in Congress and throughout the country simply don't speak the same language. They have different words to describe the same issues. For example:
• One side's "Woman's Right to Choose" is the other side's "Right to Life." Pro-choice or pro-life. Both sides avoid the more straightforward word — abortion.
• One side's "Marriage Equality" is the other side's "Redefinition of Marriage."
• One side's "Right to Carry" is the other side's "Gun Violence."
• One side's "Election Fraud Prevention" is the other side's "Restriction of Voting Rights."
• One side's "Balanced Budget" is the other side's "Shredding the Safety Net."
• One side's "Tax Reform" is the other side's "Soak the Rich."
• One side's "Judicial Activism" is the other side's "Protecting the Constitution."

All of these catch phrases are not intended to enhance the chances for compromise. On the contrary, they are designed to further divide constituencies and turn out the vote for either side. Until we can agree on what to call issues and policies — until we speak the same language — we have no hope for reaching compromises on important issues. 

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