Soon after the House passed the bipartisan budget agreement I received an email from Moveon.org. That wasn’t surprising, as I get about three a day. This one slammed the agreement, urging me to write my Congressperson and, of course, to send Moveon $3. A modest sum compared to the numbers we hear from the likes of Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers’ 501(c)(4), but it's getting tiresome nonetheless. The message, too, is getting tiresome. While we hear much about the right-wing fulminations against the bill, we hear far less about the progressive opposition (which includes people I genuinely admire, such as Chellie Pingree of Maine and Nebraska’s Tom Harkin). And there is plenty not to like, particularly the refusal to extend emergency benefits for the unemployed, which is both heartless and counterproductive.
But the agreement is a step, however tentative, toward rebuilding a consensus for actually governing. I am tired of the humorless scolds, on the left as well as the right, who have decreed any compromise to be a renunciation of the faith – and a great fundraising tool. We should hold fast to our principles. We should fight for them. But our principles do not make us gods. It is at least possible we are wrong, that there are other ideas, that it might behoove us to listen to other people. We get angry when we know we’re right and can’t get our way. Isn’t it time to put the doubt back into democracy and the humor back into humanity?