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Compromise

Compromise means looking for solutions to problems that allow all to benefit, even if it requires setting aside some personal interests. Citizens can compromise by looking for solutions that satisfy the concerns of many constituencies, by practicing moderation, and by collaborating.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “People talk about the middle of the road as though it were unacceptable. Actually, all human problems, excepting morals, come into the gray areas. Things are not all black and white. There have to be compromises.”

Compromise in politics can allow progress to continue where it might otherwise end, and allow for beneficial outcomes to be extended to several individuals or groups. The Founders sought to compromise when ratifying the Constitution – James Madison promised the Anti-Federalists that a bill of rights would be added after ratification, even though he himself did not favor the idea at first. (He did later come to support it.)

However, readily compromising one’s values is not always a virtue. Refusing to compromise can be a sign of integrity. Anti-Federalists including George Mason refused to sign the Constitution because they believed it did not adequately protect rights. John Dickinson, who did not believe that declaring independence was the best course of action, left Pennsylvania rather than sign the Declaration of Independence.

Examples of compromises include the Connecticut Compromise, the Missouri Compromise, and the Compromise of 1850.