When it comes to holding firm on political positions and not giving ground, more Americans think that's a good idea than not. Perhaps this is why we are where we are today, with a highly polarized Congress simply reflecting the strong will of constituents.
About half of Americans (49 percent) most admire political leaders who do not compromise, according to a poll out today by the Pew Research Center. A little less than that, 42 percent, admire political leaders who compromise with people they disagree with.
These views gain intensity when you break them down by political affiliation. Republicans (62 percent) believe political leaders should hold the line; that rises to 71 percent among those who align themselves with the Tea Party movement. A little more than half of Democrats think the opposite, while independents (53 percent) are more for sticking to your guns and not giving in.
The country is seeing the intransigence effect in the new health care law. It never gained bipartisan support. Not a single Republican voted for it. Now Republicans vow to dismantle it after the November elections.
Indeed, whether it's Democrats or Republicans whom you blame for the lack of bipartisanship in this case, the result is a law under attack. Republicans may not be able to repeal it, given President Obama's veto power. But they could, for instance, starve it of funds.
The lesson here is that major legislation that does not have bipartisan backing is inherently unstable. Think about big bills that have made it through previous Congresses. Social Security, Medicare, welfare reform, No Child Left Behind – they all passed because both parties compromised.
Today people are up in arms about the debt, as well they should be. But there would have been no balanced budget agreement in 1997 without political compromise. America faces serious problems. They will need both parties working together to solve them.