Compromise is a dirty word to a lot of people, especially in the gun rights movement. However, compromise is often much more nuanced than it seems. It seems to me that there are approximately 5 outcomes to an action (bill, court case, etc.) these may be more like points on a continuum, but for simplicity, we will look at 5: Complete win, partial win, “classic compromise,” partial loss, total loss. Note that of these, only the two ends are not a compromise.
Complete Win – Obviously the best outcome, also the hardest to achieve. Add to it the varying definitions of winning, and we can see why these are rare for anyone in politics.
Partial Win – Often derided as a compromise, these are like getting 7 yards at 1st and goal on the 10. You didn’t get the touchdown, but you made progress, and you have the opportunity to try again. A lot of the wins that the NRA and the “moderates” or “pragmatics” have made are these types. We may have given up on some advances, but didn’t lose any ground we had at the beginning.
“Classic Compromise” – Both sides give something to get something else. These can be the most dangerous, not overly common on single issue topics like gun control, but they do happen.
Partial Loss – The other side gets the 7 yards. This is bad. However, there are times that it is all you can get, and better than a complete loss. If the options are a partial loss, and an all but certain complete loss, it is often better to take the partial loss.
Complete Loss – A complete win for the opponents, rare for the same reasons a complete win for us is.
And this is an oversimplification of things. I believe in staying in the top two as much as possible, and trying to force a complete loss into only a partial loss if a loss is certain. In the end, you have to compromise somewhat. The key is doing it intelligently so that you gain the most ground and lose the least. While some have criticized the NRA and others for compromising, the question that always needs to be asked is, are we better or worse off than we were. And when we lose, did the compromise at least soften what would have been a much larger loss.
I heard this analogy once, I had to pull the numbers so hopefully they are right (stats for the regular season):
Walter Payton was one of the greatest runners in football history. Over the course of his career, he ran 16,726 yards, or an incredible 9 and a quarter miles. While this is impressive, remember that he got knocked down every 4.36 yards. Over 97% of his carries resulted in him getting knocked down or out of bounds, with less than 3% ending in the endzone. He got knocked down 3728 times, but he got back up and did it again. Were those 3728 losses? Or were they minor victories, and some losses, that were stepping stones to one of the greatest careers ever?