There’s one word that is too frequently forgotten or neglected in our polarized political environment. I’m thinking of the word BOTH. When policymaking and governance are only seen as contests with losers and winners, we actually all lose. This has something to do with compromise but it’s more than that. It’s also about humility and respect. Humility in that even the brightest and most principled among us are not always right... and respect in that even those who don’t share our values and views probably have something to contribute.
Here are some examples of the “both” mentality:
+Can we do both?
+Both things are true.
+Yes and... (instead of a dismissive “yeah but...”)
+We disagree but you have made an important point that needs to be taken into consideration.
+Wow, I hadn’t thought about that.
Let me see if I can move beyond something that sounds a bit platitudinous and cliché and make it more practical. We can both address homelessness effectively and keep our community safe. We can both reduce our transportation carbon footprint and have adequate parking for people that drive cars. We can both build affordable housing in our community and reduce traffic congestion. You get the idea. Now it would be stupid for me to say each of these “both” proposals are simple and easy. However, they are achievable if we choose to work together to accomplish them.
Our problems arise when the leading players in our community chose to prioritize one side of these pairs over the other. “We can’t have any more traffic and I believe building more rental housing will create more traffic so I will oppose that housing.” That mindset gets us nowhere as a community.
In almost every instance (though I’m sure there are exceptions) the “both” mentality is less stupid than the alternative. Let’s try it more often.