The Politics of Compromise

The ballots are counted and voters have been heard. But will the recent hard-fought election, replete with record spending and ever more divisive rhetoric, really change anything in Washington?

Penn's Annenberg School of Communication, Department of Political Science, and Philosophy, Politics, and Economics program hosted "Time to Deal: Reawakening the Spirit of Compromise in American Politics" on Tuesday, November 13 on campus. The panelists, who included Penn President Amy Gutmann, co-author of The Spirit of Compromise: How Governing Demands It and Campaigning Undermines It with Harvard Professor Dennis Thompson, addressed how we can best avoid short-term problems, such as the fiscal cliff, and work to come up with long-term solutions for the good of the country, even when political opponents disagree.

"The risk to our country is greater than ever if our political leaders can't compromise, because a persistent failure to compromise biases the political process in favor of the status quo," said Gutmann. "The status quo doesn't mean that nothing changes— it means politicians let other forces control the change."

In addition to Gutmann and Thompson, Annenberg Dean Michael Delli Carpini moderated the discussion, and was joined by panelists Russell Muirhead, professor of political science at Dartmouth College, and William Galston, who heads the Governance Program at the Brookings Institution.

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Text by Laura Cavender
Video by Kurtis Sensenig