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Beyond Bipartisanship

Following my recent post about bipartisanship, there is an interesting piece in The Guardian by Gary Younge:

As a means, bipartisanship is, of course, an admirable goal: the more politicians are able to work together, put the interests of their constituents first and get things done, the better. The grandstanding, bickering and procedural one-upmanship that characterises so much of what passes for politics is one of the things that makes electorates cynical and drives down voter turnout.

But as an end in itself, bipartisanship is at best shallow and at worst corrosive. For it entirely depends what parties are joining together to do. This is particularly true in America, where constituencies are openly gerrymandered, both parties are funded by big money, and legislation is often written by corporate lobbyists.

Bipartisan efforts over the past couple of decades have produced the Iraq war, the deregulation of the financial industry, the bank bailout made necessary by that deregulation, the slashing of welfare to the poor, and an exponential increase in incarceration. As the hapless Steve Martin says to his hopeless travel companion, John Candy, in Planes, Trains and Automobiles: “You know, I was thinking, when we put our heads together … we’ve really gotten nowhere.”

The main point of the article is that in order to have true bipartisan cooperation, you have to have something worth cooperating with. But the real problem is that Republicans still reject reality.

Half of Republicans still believe the US did find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, over half believe climate change is a hoax, and almost half do not believe in evolution. There is a limit to how much agreement you can reach with people with whom you disagree on fundamental matters of fact, let alone principle.



  1. ThatGuy wrote:

    An excellent, if depressing, read. While the conclusion might pass as hopeful, I don’t think it really matters. Any right thinking human being knows that the government shutdown was entirely the Republican’s fault the same way the DHS shutdown will be. But it won’t hurt the Republicans because so much of their support comes from folks who don’t waste time on thought.

    Monday, February 9, 2015 at 9:01 am | Permalink
  2. Michael wrote:

    Now this I will completely agree with.

    Monday, February 9, 2015 at 1:26 pm | Permalink
  3. jonr wrote:

    The real problem is that Democrats take the time to try to compromise with people who have no intention of compromising, but keep baiting and switching much like Lucy picking up the football just about the time Charlie Brown is about to kick. If there IS no compromising with these folks in ways that do not require a complete capitulation of principles, then there should be no compromise.

    Speaking of which, yes, more and more, funding of both parties comes to a great extent from the same people trying to cover all of their bets.

    What each party should do is, to introduce legislation so thoughtful, and so reasonable, and so good for such a large population of the country that the rest of the body would look foolish for not supporting it.

    So, how, indeed, is that hopey, changey thing workin’ out?

    Monday, February 9, 2015 at 2:00 pm | Permalink