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The Republican primary race for a US Senate seat in Indiana is currently underway, featuring Richard Mourdock as the challenger to incumbent Senator Richard Luger. Like most modern political races, jabs are taken at each candidate, however a tactic is employed here that is infecting the minds of young Americans with the idea that contentious national issues are settled only by defeating one’s opponent, rather than engaging in debate and compromise. Mourdock’s website describes his opponent’s stance on several issues and uses the following language:

“co-sponsoring several pieces of liberal legislation”; “Lugar voted with the Democrats”; “Lugar joined with Democrats”; “Lugar refused to join Republican minority leader”; “even joining with Democrats”; etc.

In context, the latter was written as “even joining with Democrats to stop Republican Senators from placing a 3-year moratorium on all earmarks.” Mourdock chose to point out that his opponent was working with members of the Democratic Party – as if collaboration was part of his wrongdoing – in addition to his position on earmarks. Some would argue that it is simply a case of sloppy writing, however this phenomenon is widespread on his website.

So what American utopia is Mourdock looking to create if elected? Is it one that alienates half of its populace? In a society that boasts itself as a melting pot, isn’t compromise an essential skill for an elected official? This example emphasizes a discouraging reality – that currently, cooperation with your political co-workers is discouraged. Compromise is portrayed as weakness.


I eagerly await the day when the website for a US Senate or Presidential candidate boasts phrases such as “worked with his opponents to” or “respected the beliefs of others that” or “united a bickering senate with his words of” or “was able to negotiate a compromise between.”

Should we fail to teach our children the importance of tolerance, we will only encourage contempt toward those who think differently. Should we fail to lead our young adults with examples of compromise, we will only foster an “us versus them” mentality that will keep our population ideologically divided.

Built on ideas of tolerance and respect of another’s beliefs, our country is in desperate need for the following Election Day exit poll interview.

Pollster: Sir, for whom did you vote and what made you come to that decision?

Voter: Well, I voted for Senator X. I believe he has the ability to represent my beliefs while also refusing to alienate my neighbors who believe otherwise.

Citizens should lead by example and be vocal in protest of practices that discourage collaboration and unity. Let us trumpet those with the ability to unite, lest we cultivate another generation of argumentative politicians whose moral certainty precludes the possibility of national solidarity.

Published by on 4/30/2012

By Brian T. Murphy

Negotiation. Compromise. Are these archaic phrases in the current political climate, or can our legislators find peace in cooperation and change the way that many view this age old practice?

The Death of Cooperation

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