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Good politics: compromise and win

The internal struggles of a private association is its own business – even when the association is the Central Committee of the Nevada County Republican Party.

The central committee last week accepted the resignation of its chair, Karen Chileski. Some of Chileski’s supporters – a few of her adversaries as well – say she was under pressure because she was perceived to be too liberal.

Again, that’s the party’s own business.



At the same time, however, the actions of the party ultimately will influence how we conduct the business of these governments we own together. The march to the right by the local Republican Party, accompanied as it is by a march to the left by many of the state’s Democrats under the leadership of Gov. Gray Davis, may trouble those who want public policy to be developed wisely.

Politics is the business of winning elections so that power can be exercised. Politics also is the business of crafting compromises between the many groups that are pursuing their own agendas. (All of us, by the way, are pursuing our own agendas. We all belong to special-interest groups that seek to manipulate government to our own benefit. The Founding Fathers spent most of that miserably hot summer in Philadelphia hashing over this reality of human nature.)




If politics is the business of winning elections and crafting compromises, it’s difficult to do either one from the ideological edges. Winning campaigns are those that can reach out to the great body of voters in the middle. A party which marches too far in one direction or another may feel self-assured in the knowledge that it is pure of thought – and it will have plenty of time to luxuriate in smugness while it watches its opponents exercise power.

Effective terms in office, meanwhile, are created when public officials can step away from ideology long enough to explore the art of what’s possible. Public-minded constituents are important, too, because they allow their elected representatives the room to craft compromises.

Every political party melds those who believe in the cause at any price – even if it means they’ll lose one election after another – with more practical members who will compromise to win and exercise power.

The trick is keeping those elements in the right mix – making sure a political party stands for something while also ensuring that it’s an effective participant in the exercise of power.

The Central Committee of the Nevada County Republican Party thinks it can maintain that balance from a point farther from the political middle. Only time – and the voters – will tell if that’s a smart move.


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