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Kathryn Kolbert

Kathryn Kolbert

Kathryn Kolbert, a public-interest attorney and journalist, is the Director of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College, an interdisciplinary center devoted to the theory and practice of women's leadership.

The power of compromise

Q: Although Washington D.C. residents give Mayor Adrian Fenty high marks for improving schools and other city services, he's fighting an uphill battle for reelection this week because he is seen as having ignored the traditional political process. Yet President Obama's popularity is also suffering precisely because his patient working of a broken Congressional process limited his accomplishments, diminished his stature and alienated his political base. How should leaders balance the often conflicting demands of achieving dramatic results and building consensus?

Unfortunately the first rule of politics is to cater to your base. That is precisely why our political system is in shambles. The two political parties are too concerned with playing to their most ardent supporters (the Republican wing nuts who are adamant that Obama is not a citizen or who think we should repeal the 14th Amendment; and their compatriots on the Democratic side who are perennially dissatisfied despite monumental changes in health care, and stiff new regulation of Wall Street). This crowd could use a private concert with the Partridge Family for a serenade of "Come On Get Happy..."

I long for the days when reasonable discussion and disagreement is possible. As an ardent liberal democrat, I never thought I'd be pushing for the election of moderate republicans and democrats, but in fact that is what we need: people who will stand up and be proud to compromise. Only then will we be able to create solutions to the complex global problems that face us.

By Kathryn Kolbert

 |  September 14, 2010; 10:04 AM ET
Category:  Government leadership , Political leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Good policy makes good politics | Next: Get ahead of the crowd

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