Bi-Partisanship

Monday, December 20, 2010

This op-ed from Frank Rich in Saturday's NYT pretty much sums-up what I think about "bipartisanship," couched under this new, silly No Labels Party.

A few gems:

Presumably No Labels ditched “lean” because it’s too muscular a verb for a group whose stated goals include better schools, affordable health care and more jobs — as long as they can be achieved “in a fiscally prudent way.” To proselytize for such unimpeachable verities, no leaning is required — you can do it frozen in place, and just possibly in your sleep.

The notion that civility and nominal bipartisanship would accomplish any of the heavy lifting required to rebuild America is childish magical thinking, and, worse, a mindless distraction from the real work before the nation. Sure, it would be swell if rhetorical peace broke out in Washington — or on cable news networks — but given that American politics have been rancorous since Boston’s original Tea Party, wishing will not make it so.

...

WHAT America needs is not another political organization with a toothless agenda and less-than-transparent finances. The country will not rest easy until there are brave leaders in both parties willing to reform the system that let perpetrators of the Great Recession escape while the rest of us got stuck with the wreckage [emphasis added]...“Nobody from Lehman, Merrill Lynch or Citigroup has been charged criminally with anything. No top executives at Bear Stearns have been indicted. All former American International Group executives are running free.” For No Labels to battle this status quo would require actual political courage — true bipartisan courage, in fact.
The entire article is worth a read and takes a few minutes. It provides several examples of Congressional officials on "bipartisan" commissions who then vote-down their very own commission's recommendations to appease whatever political beast they owe their careers to.

There are gobs of examples of bipartisanship that falls apart in the face of actual partisan votes, because at the end of the day, elected officials dance with who brung 'em. Compromise under the mealy-mouthed bipartisanship that DC has given us so far tends to screw lefty views. When the left doesn't compromise (DADT, for example), they get what they want and what they were sent to Washington for. When they don't, the right "wins." For their part, the right functions the same way: to get what you want, you can't compromise. It gets worse when we look at financial matters. John Q Public is getting fucked by our corporate masters. But all bipartisan attempts to regulate them break down to the point where bipartisan recommendations fail, and the regulations one side wants are watered-down so much due to their own sad allegiance with Wall Street that ultimately, the other side of the argument wins yet again: laissez faire business regulation. Shit, Congress caught the big financial corporations with their pants down, rescued them, then acquiesced when those rescued corporations had the gall to bitch about the regs!! Bipartisanship of the garden DC variety ain't gonna solve that. That'll take a real bipartisan effort to change the way politicians deal with influence.

It will take massive institutional change to make the system actually change for the better. And right now, our ruling oligarchs certainly won't let that happen.

6 comments:

steves 12:39 PM  

In many ways, I htink bipartissanship is overrated. I also doubt that it happens that often. People think we need to return to the days when civility and compromise ruled the day, but I have a hard time finding when this was ever the case.

I agree that things need to be changed, but I doubt you will get massive agreement on what that change should look like.

Smitty 12:45 PM  

People think we need to return to the days when civility and compromise ruled the day,

Agreed, Steve. I look at some of the writings of our much-lauded Founding Fathers, and they fought like rabid dogs. The shit they said to and about one another was vicious.

I am reading Team of Rivals right now, and despite the abolishinist sentiments of Lincoln and his few political rivals, they took a huge risk for doing so and had some really shitty things said about them.

I agree that things need to be changed, but I doubt you will get massive agreement on what that change should look like.

And that pretty well sums-up Rich's whole article and why bipartisanship is a pipe-dream.

steves 1:05 PM  

That article was a good find. I figure that if we get what most people want some of the time, then that is probably the best we can hope for.

I look at some of the writings of our much-lauded Founding Fathers, and they fought like rabid dogs. The shit they said to and about one another was vicious.


Fought, indeed. Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel.

Smitty 1:09 PM  

Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel.

At least nowadays our Congresscritters merely engage in character assassination and not actual assassination! How far we've come...

Jay 3:05 PM  

I guess my problem with strongly partisan (conflict-based) government is that when everyone works against each other, it means that any change (positive or negative) is harder to implement. And in that environment, it seems to me that a conservative agenda is more likely to prevail in the long term, regardless of whether that is the right or more sensible approach to any given problem or issue.

Coalition governments, on the other hand, have some amount of compromise and ability to implement changes built into them. Our system of government is not, it seems to me, as conducive to formulating constructive responses to changing conditions.

Monk-in-Training 7:50 AM  

Unfortunately the only other choices I know of are dictatorships, or the same thing cloaked in "Royal" overtones.

Some one said "it is good to be King"

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