“The middle of the road is all of the usable surface. The extremes, right and left, are in the gutters.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower
Arnold “The Terminator” Schwarzenegger cited that quotation when asked which Republican he was endorsing for president in 2016. I wonder what would have happened had our current president taken him up on his challenge earlier this year to switch jobs. President Trump sent a few tweets blaming the “A man” for this season’s low Celebrity Apprentice ratings. Ahhnold responded by offering to swap jobs, saying that Trump could run the show, while the former California governor led the country. I’m not sure what kind of president Schwarzenegger would be, but I would love to hear his thick Austrian accent cut through a press conference with, “I must leave you now for Camp David. Get to the choppa!”
With the debates about the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act and House Bill 2 in our state, the Eisenhower quote resonates with me. As publisher, I am fortunate to have a first-hand look at how business is conducted in North Carolina. I read in our magazine about how deals get done. I’ve talked with business leaders about how they work with customers, employees and vendors to keep companies running smoothly. I’ve listened to economic developers discuss tactics to attract business. The one constant theme is compromise.
Compromise is the means by which things run smoothly in business. Hardly anyone goes into a deal and comes out completely pleased or totally ticked at the outcome. It’s give-and-take as much as possible. This process should make sense in our political system as well. Lately, that hasn’t been the case. Our leaders on the left and right seem to be pulling our state and country further and further apart.
There are many reasons for the disconnect. The rise of social media makes it easier to gravitate to like–minded folks. It’s natural, because we dislike confrontation. Living in our partisan bubbles leads to cheering sections rather than real debate. Someone disagrees? Simply block them from your group. More traditional media offerings have similar tendencies. There’s a channel or website catering to your political slant, and if you don’t like someone’s point of view, just turn to different sources. Cheer for your side and hate the other.
Business does not have the luxury to be self-righteous. In many instances, we must deal with folks whose political leanings and philosophies are very different from our own. When business is conducted internationally, cultural and philosophical differences often need to be set aside before negotiations begin. This sounds pretty cynical, but if business doesn’t get done, we all suffer. To be sure, there are times when human rights, oppression and other important issues must come into play. But in terms of political or cultural differences, both sides have to find common ground.
The same rule applies to politics. It’s much more idealistic, as it should be. But when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of getting a deal done on a piece of legislation, agreement or treaty, there needs to be some negotiationand compromise. Otherwise, the country, state, county and city — we the people — will suffer.