Every attentive person watching the “fiscal cliff” budget negotiations in Washington realizes that no deal can be reached unless both political parties give up something very important to them.

That’s the nature of political compromise, which is what’s needed to solve big national problems like our debt crisis.

Both parties hold legitimate positions. It’s true that we have to restrain our spending and look for additional cuts as Republicans stress. It’s also true that we need more revenue, the point Democrats emphasize.

Who would argue that combining both approaches will not get us there faster than simply spending less or revenue generation on their own; they are not mutually exclusive events after all.

Each party also has a strong historical resistance to the desires of the other — and not just because they’re campaign rivals.

Democrats are proud of their leadership in creating public programs such as Social Security that helped create the great American middle class. They also, from the party’s founding, have been suspicious of accumulated wealth, and so now demand that Wall Street wheeler-dealers contribute more to deficit reduction through higher taxes.

Republicans have carefully built their brand as the anti-tax party, and are quick to point out the inevitable defects in large government social programs.

This situation, however, isn’t about ideological party differences now, or should not be. This is about us, and the children following us.

We can’t kick this can any farther down the road; later is now. No more smoke and mirrors. Each time negotiations begin, all present should be made to repeat, out load, in unison, “… I pledge not to seek a win for my party; I do pledge to seek a solution for the people of this great nation.”

John Miles, Augusta