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<xTITLE>Is Compromise Possible?</xTITLE>

Is Compromise Possible?

by Colin Rule
May 2013

Novo Justice Blog by Colin Rule

Colin Rule

Charles Wheelan on Salon:

“Any serious talk of pragmatism and compromise in American politics usually ends with some nettlesome questions: What about the social issues? What about abortion? What about gun control? These are issues on which reasonable people disagree passionately. Anyone who tells you that there is a “right” answer on abortion has not spent much time thinking about the issue or lacks the empathy to appreciate how other people think about it. Americans’ views on these issues tend to be theological — literally in many cases. No amount of arguing or data gathering is going to change anyone’s core values; we’ve dug our intellectual trenches and hunkered down.

So how can a party built around the idea of pragmatism and compromise deal with issues whose defining feature is a deep and conflicting vision of what is right and wrong?

With pragmatism and compromise. Here is the fundamental insight: Reasonable people disagree about whether or not abortion should be illegal; but no reasonable person thinks that abortion is a good thing.

Reasonable people disagree about how readily guns should be available and what the requirements for purchase ought to be; but no reasonable person wants guns to fall into the hands of criminals or those who are dangerously mentally ill.

There are plenty of other social issues: drug policy, stem cell research, flag burning, the death penalty, and so on. In time, the Centrist Party will have to wrestle with them all. For now, abortion and guns will do a fine job of illustrating how the Centrist Party can bring people together on issues that normally drive them apart. The key to diffusing these ideologically charged social issues is refocusing them on two more pragmatic questions: 1) What is the real harm to society associated with this activity? 2) How can we minimize that harm? The answers to those questions will dictate Centrist policy. Is that going to make everybody happy? Of course not. But the purpose of the Centrist Party is not to make everybody happy, particularly the political poles. The purpose of the Centrist Party is to craft an agenda that a large swathe of underrepresented moderate American voters can get behind. On the major social issues, that’s entirely possible.”



Biography


Colin Rule is CEO of Mediate.com.  From 2017 to 2020 Colin was Vice President for Online Dispute Resolution at Tyler Technologies. Tyler acquired Modria.com, an ODR provider Colin co-founded, in 2017. From 2003 to 2011 Colin was Director of Online Dispute Resolution for eBay and PayPal.  Colin co-founded Online Resolution, one of the first online dispute resolution (ODR) providers, in 1999 and served as its CEO and President.  Colin worked for several years with the National Institute for Dispute Resolution (now ACR) in Washington, D.C. and the Consensus Building Institute in Cambridge, MA.

Colin is the author of Online Dispute Resolution for Business, published by Jossey-Bass in September 2002, and co-author of The New Handshake: Online Dispute Resolution and the Future of Consumer Protection, published by the ABA in 2017. He received the first Frank Sander Award for Innovation in ADR from the American Bar Association in 2020, and the Mary Parker Follett Award from the Association for Conflict Resolution in 2013. He holds a Master’s degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in conflict resolution and technology, a graduate certificate in dispute resolution from UMass-Boston, a B.A. from Haverford College, and he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Eritrea from 1995-1997.  You can read many of his articles and see some of his talks at colinrule.com/writing.



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