By Lance Simmens
Voltaire, the famous French writer and activist is known for divining the phrase “l’ennemi du bien est le bien,” which in English roughly translates to “don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.” I have often used this quote when writing articles about the seeming futility of reaching accommodation, compromise, or meaningful progress that is less than perfect but preferable to solving whatever issues were being discussed.
We are currently in an era of sharp division that is pitting two oppositional philosophies over not only severe issues, but digs down deep into the core of even the most trivial dilemmas. So critically confrontational positions have risen to a level where there is talk, beyond bluster, of the prospects of civil war. No clearer illustration than the Jan. 6, 2021, attack upon the Capitol — in what can only be described as a truly vicious insurrection that questioned one of the most sacred and cherished gifts forwarded by the founding fathers, namely the peaceful transfer of power from one presidential administration to the next — captures the state we find ourselves in today.
There is little doubt that we are in the midst of a bona fide partisan split over the benefits of democracy versus authoritarian power as we enter our next historical phase and it is becoming exceedingly more difficult to implement forward thinking as we prepare future generations for a roadmap to potential success.
But this is where we find ourselves in the contemporary political environment and regardless of the angst that fuels our differences seeking compromise is the order of the day.
That is how democracy works, you fight hard for your position, but in the end you settle for the best that you can possibly achieve and live to fight another day. It can be messy and painful but it is the cost of freedom.
Today, we are in the critically treacherous arena pitting immigration and refugees against American citizens (ironic given we are all descendants of immigrants and refugees) in a battle that contains differing levels of hope and despair among the two major political parties and that tests the ability of seasoned political operatives, conservative versus liberal, Democrats versus Republicans, urban versus rural, geographical entities spread throughout the lower 48 states, and state versus federal political, legislative, and administrative authorities in a chaotic scramble to implement a myriad of often contradictory and explosively contentious political solutions.
Throw in the dynamic infusion of conflicting impacts created by linking the border crisis with funding for two separate wars in Ukraine and Gaza and it boggles the imagination that solving the issues facing not only the nation, but the world itself, seem beyond reach. It is absolutely absurd and defeatist to simply shrug one’s shoulders and accept that there appear to be no resolutions to the crisis facing our nation. There is always an answer, some better than others. I will not even presuppose that I have the answers to the border problem or its impacts upon foreign struggles. However, I do know that it will require the most strenuous application of will and resolve in order to sort our way through the pending crisis.
A bipartisan solution is currently under consideration, stressing that yes, we can manage to look past our differences and do what is in the best interest of the populace at large. It has prompted Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham to remark “Here’s what I hate: I hate when people won’t try, but just criticize.” It is hard work and requires a genuine commitment to sacrifice one’s ego for the benefit of the nation and its citizens. But to toss potential solutions to the garbage heap of imperfection because they do not comport with political gains directly conflicts with our heritage as a beacon of liberty and is unacceptable.
J. G. Saxe was a 19th-century poet known as the originator of the maxim: “laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.” Legislative sausage-making is democracy at work.
To jump from Voltaire and Saxe to Mick Jagger, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need.” Ladies and gentlemen, it behooves all of you involved in solving these issues to swallow your pride, work together to the best of your ability and accept that which comports closest to your thoughts, knowing that the weight of the world, at least for this particular issue rests upon your shoulders and the fate of our future generations is dependent upon your ability to plan for the future.
To allow simple political justifications to dictate your responsibility to solve problems is the most serious example of critical malfeasance that will follow you around the rest of your life, and those who follow you will scorn you and eliminate any trust they may have misguidedly garnered for you. Buckle up and fulfill your obligations to the people you represent — quitting is not an option.