Anyone who makes progress in this world makes compromises.
In the case of the U.S. Government, every gear and cog in the system is based on negotiation. Power is divided into three rings, each ring given a degree of power over the others. Why? To force compromise. Inside Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives, each has the power to reject new laws. Why? To force compromise. Even the executive branch has its power muted by many other forces the population likes to pretend aren’t there. It’s much simpler to point to a singular parental figure, than admit that despite the president’s power, he or she is merely an important cog in a huge, complex system of debates, partnerships, rivalries, and deals (or bribes), with many influential players involved in anything that happens, or does not happen.
One foundation of the entire system is that longevity comes from continual compromise, based on what the population supports. No one ever gets their way without a bargain. Nothing ever happens without some price or consequence. It is not a system designed for innovation, instead it’s designed to slow change until enough support exists to motivate people to overcome their self-interests. This is part of the design of democracies and republics of all kinds. It was true in the Golden Age of Greece and during the American Revolutionary war. It was in the air at the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and has been true on every day since. The chaos you see in the crisis of the day has more to do with the fact you are paying unusually close attention, rather than a shift in the longstanding nature of representative government itself.
John F. Kennedy wrote a book called Profiles in Courage, about senators who stood on principle against their peers. They achieved important legislation, but were not reelected despite how right they were (retrospectively) in their stands. This is not a failure of government, it’s another form of compromise. Arguably one that has been lost in the dominance of career politicians who put their longevity in office above all things.
These brave people were willing to sacrifice their political careers for an ideal, something any politician is free to do at any time. Most of us make the opposite kind of choice every day. We compromise our principles to keep a fancy job, or stay in a marriage, or stay in our parents-in-laws’ good graces. And since so few of us are willing to make the sacrifices to retain perfect ideals in our own lives, why do we expect more from politicians? They say what they need to to get elected, but to be effective in any way in office demands compromise.
The only people who take true hard lines in this world are the spectators. Fundamentalism of most kinds is the mark of someone on the sidelines. People unwilling to compromise can never take the first step towards power, since they fail to see that all things, including the traditions they see as immovable, were themselves products of compromises made long before they were born. And it’s their own ignorance they are fighting against, not anything of meaning in this world.