Wednesday, January 04, 2012


My primary instrument is acoustic guitar and I have two wonderful instruments, both built by Lowden Guitars, an Irish company that builds stunning guitars.  They are not inexpensive but to my ears, they are well worth the cost.   The sound is big, warm, responsive, elegant, and rich.  Guitars though are not very loud as far as instruments go so to be heard in any but the most intimate of settings, they require some kind of amplification.  Any instrument that embodies all of those adjectives is going to be very difficult to capture with any kind of pickup and amplifying it will necessarily involve multiple compromises between accuracy, complexity of the system used to capture the sound, susceptibility to feedback, and the choice of which characteristics of the instrument must be attenuated to play in a louder situation.  I joke that I spent a significant amount on a great guitar only to be faced with multiple compromises when trying to amplify it and significant additional costs.

Getting a good live sound is a huge area of discussion among acoustic players.  For me, the bottom line is always, which compromises am I willing to make?  What characteristics of the sound of my guitar played in my living room am I willing to give up in order to be able to play for an audience of 50 or 100 or 500 people? 

Compromise... is not a popular word in the US these days.  For decades, compromise has been the primary work for politicians.  In a nation growing ever more diverse, their job was to come together and work out deals with which nobody was completely happy but everyone got something they deemed important.  Of course, there have always been instances where folk have had issues about which they could not compromise.  Still, until recent times, politicians did a pretty good job of finding ways past those issues and making deals.

In recent years our culture has become more and more polar.  In politics this has been fed in the primary process where the more extreme voters are likely to participate and many politicians, especially on the right, are pushed towards the extremes just to get nominated.  As those more extreme groups have gained power in the primary process and have enabled some extreme candidates to get elected, they have become more entrenched and less willing to compromise.  For what it's worth, the same thing has happened in religious circles.

Now, here's the piece that has me interested.  A few days ago Glenn Greenwald published a fascinating article in The Salon comparing many of Obama's political stands to those of Ron Paul and traditional liberal stances.  He said the issue was that many liberals are either downplaying the issues where Ron Paul is actually more in line with their beliefs or ignoring them altogether.   The reality here is that progressives are being forced to compromise their views.  They must decide whom they will embrace when one candidate stands for some of their issues and not others while the other candidate is the exact opposite.  I think Greenwald is correct that in large degree the liberals are avoiding a conscious compromise and ignoring those issues where Obama stands in contrast to their historic views.

Coming out of Iowa, the Republicans have a similar dilemma.  Mitt Romeny, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul represent very different understandings of what it means to be a Republican and each would present an extremely different platform for that party in the next election.  None seem to be a happy compromise for them.  Indeed, I think that dis-ease with compromise has been the genesis of the revolving 2nd place candidates as many in the party are not happy with Romney while each option they put forward turns out to be worse.  In any case, they will be forced to compromise, to choose which characteristics they can let go in order to keep some others.  Some, like many in the Tea Party have already said they will not vote for Romney as he would be a compromise with their core principles.   It will be interesting to see where this goes...

1 comment:

CaliDane said...

It can only go to one place: Romney will be the nominee, and he will lose. That much seems certain. The more interesting question is what will happen in the House elections, and there I have no idea what will happen ...