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Contributed By:

Chip Grabow


OPB | Dec. 7, 2010 9 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 9:44 p.m.

Oregon’s next legislative session will see a split House (30-30) and a nearly split Senate (16-14). That means legislators will be forced to compromise to get anything accomplished. Already, House members had to strike a deal just to decide how the chamber will be run.

In a recent poll (pdf) from OPB and Fox 12, 88 percent of respondents said they agreed with a statement that said “times are too difficult to focus on partisan differences” and that it was time “both political parties be willing to compromise to move us forward.”

At a time of increased polarization in this country, talk of compromise is reaching new levels. But is compromise essentially a good or a bad thing? Dictionary definitions of the word offer both positive (“an agreement”) and negative (“concession”) connotations. Princeton’s Avishai Margalit writes that we ought to be:

judged by our compromises more than by our ideals and norms. Ideals may tell us something important about what we would like to be. But compromises tell us who we are.

Can legislators really come together to get things done in Salem? How do you define compromise when it comes to politics? What political issues would you absolutely not want to see your representatives compromise on? Is compromise good or bad?


  • Tim Hibbitts: Partner of Davis, Hibbitts and Midghall, Inc.
  • Michael Metelits: Oregon voter who agrees political compromise is important  
  • Eleanor Degeneffe: Oregon voter who disagrees compromise is important
  • Avishai Margalit: Professor at the Insitute for Advanced Study at Princeton University and author of, “On Compromise and Rotten Compromises”
  • Rep. Jules Bailey (D-Portland): Represents Oregon’s 42nd House District
  • Rep. Tim Freeman (R-Roseburg): Represents Oregon’s 2nd House District


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