A call for compromise

Penn President Amy Gutmann and co-author Dennis F. Thompson of Harvard University prescribed a change in the mind-set of the U.S. Congress in an op-ed piece published in The New York Times on Nov. 30. 

“Members of Congress need to change their minds about compromise, or voters will need to change the members of Congress,” they asserted. 

 “If its members won’t relearn the value of compromise, then voters must use the next election to show that they want representatives who care enough about governing to try to compromise. This does not mean accepting those who abandon their principles … But it does mean choosing those who accept that compromises by their very nature will be impure from all partisan perspectives.”

Gutmann and Thompson are the authors of several books on deliberative democracy, including a forthcoming examination of the topic titled “The Spirit of Compromise: Why Governing Demands It and Campaigning Undermines It.”

In their previous book “Democracy and Disagreement,” published in 1996, they proposed deliberation not as a panacea, but rather as an antidote and alternative to coarseness, intransigence and extremism degrading politics and public discourse in America.

In 2004, Gutmann and Thompson expanded on the topic with "Why Deliberative Democracy?"


Originally published on November 30, 2011