You should never ask a people to compromise their principles. That's the problem in government. Some items that seem blatantly obvious to a conservative seem equally ridiculous to a liberal. Moderates tend to believe both are wrong.

You should never ask a people to compromise their principles.

That's the problem in government. Some items that seem blatantly obvious to a conservative seem equally ridiculous to a liberal. Moderates tend to believe both are wrong.

The Republicans have taken a lot of heat about being "the party of no" since Barack Obama took office about a year ago.

Most of it has been well-earned.

However, the national health care debate has made it evident that both sides have plenty of blame to share.

During the State of the Union address, Obama called for bipartisan work on the issue to get it passed.

"Despite the political posturing that often paralyzes this town, there are many issues upon which we can and should agree," he said.

He called for compromise. But one-sided compromise is better defined as surrender.

"Compromise is usually a sign of weakness, or an admission of defeat," Andrew Carnegie said. "Strong men don't compromise, it is said, and principles should never be compromised."

The Republicans, having renewed their strength by doing away with the Democrats' super-majority of 60 senators, have come to the table only to find that all of the Democratic principles in the bill have to remain. There is no room to respect conservative values.

That's not compromise. The only way to govern in that environment is to maintain the supermajority in both legislative houses and pile drive bills through the legislative process.

Scott Brown and the Massachusetts voters put an end to that form of governance, and it isn't likely to return anytime soon.

That means it is time to compromise. That includes giving and taking.

Refusing to adopt a plan to allow more room for Republicans under the tent won't get the 60th vote on a bill.

"It's not hard to figure out that there's some kind of shell game going on here. I know bipartisanship when I see it, and it's not saying one thing and doing another," House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, (R-Ohio) said.

The Obama administration will have to be willing to yield some less central principles in order to allow legislators from the other side of the aisle to support legislation without surrendering.

The days of negotiating by reminding the GOP that "we won" are passed.

Now is the time to exhibit leadership by bringing people with opposing views together and creating a bill that benefits the country and can be tolerated by both sides.

That is governance in a two-party system. That is American democracy.

That is the only way to end the stalemate.

Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta (Kan.) Gazette.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the newspaper.