Horse Trades for the Common Good

There is a reason the Vatican does not allow nuns and priests to run for public office. Politicians, by the nature of their work, must make compromises. They have to work with people who hold different values than their own.

The Vatican expects us nuns and priests to be true believers. But it has canonized kings, the quintessential deal-makers.

These days in the United States, voters have elevated ideologues to high office, electing them ostensibly to serve us. But what they serve is their own ideology, not the common good. So we have people elected as pro-life who oppose abortion but vote to cut food aid to new mothers and their infants, who support the federal death penalty, and who have never seen a military program they didn’t like -- and who favor Styrofoam and incandescent light bulbs.

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In order to serve the common good, politicians have to be willing to horse-trade, and they have to be good at it. It’s not like bluffing at poker and it’s not Russian roulette. The best politicians make deals where everyone walks away feeling like they gained something. Instead, these days we measure success by the measure of humiliation we heap on the loser.


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