Monday, March 16, 2009

Why Bipartisanship Doesn't Work

During the presidential campaign, both candidates touted the benefits of bipartisanship. John McCain couldn’t talk enough about all the times he “reached across the aisle” to work on legislation with Democrats (though the two most prominent examples, the McCain-Feingold Act and his immigration deal with Ted Kennedy, weren’t exactly rousing successes). And Barack Obama was supposed to represent a “new kind of politics,” where party affiliation took a back seat to what worked. He hadn’t had much experience in bipartisanship, since he never really did much of anything in the Senate, but he did pass this one ethics law with Richard Lugar.

Then Obama was elected, and of course all his bipartisanship talk was quickly discarded. Obama (in what was admittedly a brilliant move) kept Robert Gates on as Secretary of Defense, and appointed Illinois Rep. Ray Hood as Transportation Secretary. Another sign of bipartisanship was Obama’s offer of the Secretary of Commerce job to Senator Judd Gregg, and that was tarnished by the fact that Obama would have stripped the Commerce Department of its authority to conduct the census. But apart from those early (and in the case of Gregg, ineffective) gestures, Obama’s administration has been politics as usual: Obama blames Bush for our current economic crisis, and has orchestrated attacks against Rush Limbaugh. The politics of hope seem more like the politics of the status quo.

Of course, you can’t blame Obama for that—that’s just how politics works, and there’s a reason politics works that way. Bipartisanship doesn’t work because it is hard to get productive work done when the other party is doing his best to ensure that you will be out a job next election. This fundamental conflict of interest is a part of all bipartisan dealing, and is the reason why most bipartisan negotiations result in a compromise that neither side likes at all.

Most people, however, wish that things were different; that politicians from both sides of the aisle could join together to find solutions for America. Basically, they hope the Barack Obama’s “Audacity of Hope” might have some reality, and bipartisanship might have a chance.
They shouldn’t. Bipartisanship doesn’t work, at least not in American politics right now. The two parties are far too far apart ideologically for compromise to be a real possibility. It is possible to compromise when the differences are a matter of degree. It is not possible to forge any sort of lasting compromise when the differences are a matter of kind.

Take Obama’s stimulus package. It was a notoriously hard-fought bill; the Republicans fought it every step of the way, and the Democrats fought back just as vigorously. Neither side seriously considered a real compromise. (Although without the GOP resistance, it is very probable that the stimulus would have been much larger, so perhaps the Democrats did compromise, though not very much). But what compromise could have been possible? In conservative ideology, the very existence of the bill is an abomination. The question was not settling the exact dollar amount of the stimulus—the real question was whether the bill should be passed at all. And there is no compromise possible in that kind of either-or situation.

It’s the same sort of deal with most other political issues—abortion, gay marriage, bailouts.
So when politicians do try to compromise, the result is an impossible hybrid that neither side likes. Republicans usually adopt the liberal principle that government action is the answer to any crisis. Democrats allow that any government action should be restrained, and that taxes should remain low. So the U.S. spends money (keeping the Democrats happy), while not spending enough (if we assume that government action can do good), or having any way to compensate for its expenditures (which keeps Republicans content).

In some countries, where both sides have the same goals, but different ways of reaching them, bipartisanship may be a good, even necessary thing. But in a country, like in America, where the parties have radically different goals, bipartisanship is at best a necessary evil. Obama’s dream of genuine bipartisanship will remain unfulfilled—and that’s a good thing.


At March 17, 2009 at 8:53 AM , Blogger Z-man said...

In my view bipartisanship doesn't work because most people or at least the ones in Congress are either conservative or liberal, it's known as having principles even if we disagree with them. Obama doesn't strike me as much of a triangulator the way Clinton was, doesn't have that centrist pull imo.

At March 19, 2009 at 6:05 AM , Blogger Beth said...

I don't even think it's about ideologies anymore, it's just about having power. Both sides just want control of the three branches so they can spend money on their pet projects and their social agendas can get through. From the last election you can see it was about a party winning, not it's ideals.

At March 23, 2009 at 2:11 PM , Blogger Z-man said...

Sounds about right to me.

At November 5, 2014 at 5:34 PM , Blogger oakleyses said...

louis vuitton outlet, coach purses, prada outlet, tiffany and co jewelry, nike shoes, red bottom shoes, longchamp handbags, oakley sunglasses, longchamp outlet, christian louboutin outlet, oakley vault, kate spade handbags, louis vuitton handbags, true religion outlet, louis vuitton outlet online, coach outlet, ray ban outlet, nike air max, burberry outlet online, polo ralph lauren outlet, kate spade outlet online, polo ralph lauren, coach outlet store online, nike air max, tiffany jewelry, cheap oakley sunglasses, coach outlet, true religion, christian louboutin, longchamp outlet online, burberry outlet online, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet store, michael kors outlet online, tory burch outlet, michael kors outlet, chanel handbags, gucci handbags, michael kors outlet online, nike free, louis vuitton outlet, michael kors outlet online, ray ban sunglasses, christian louboutin shoes, louis vuitton, jordan shoes, prada handbags

At November 5, 2014 at 5:41 PM , Blogger oakleyses said...

nike blazer pas cher, lacoste pas cher, timberland, north face, air max, guess pas cher, nike free, air jordan, sac louis vuitton, air max pas cher, hollister, michael kors canada, lululemon, barbour, abercrombie and fitch, burberry pas cher, hermes pas cher, vans pas cher, north face pas cher, nike air max, sac vanessa bruno, chaussure louboutin, mulberry, nike roshe run, ralph lauren pas cher, louis vuitton, louis vuitton pas cher, sac michael kors, converse pas cher, nike free pas cher, oakley pas cher, ralph lauren, longchamp, new balance pas cher, hollister, nike roshe, louis vuitton uk, tn pas cher, scarpe hogan, true religion jeans, nike air force, longchamp pas cher, michael kors uk, ray ban pas cher, ray ban uk, true religion outlet, nike air max

At November 5, 2014 at 5:44 PM , Blogger oakleyses said...

marc jacobs outlet, beats headphones, canada goose, rolex watches, abercrombie and fitch, celine handbags, new balance outlet, instyler ionic styler, ugg boots, reebok shoes, roshe run, uggs on sale, ghd, north face jackets, nike huarache, valentino shoes, vans outlet, ugg outlet, p90x workout, ugg soldes, mont blanc pens, chi flat iron, canada goose outlet, lululemon outlet, ferragamo shoes, longchamp, nfl jerseys, asics shoes, mac cosmetics, bottega veneta, north face outlet, herve leger, birkin bag, wedding dresses, insanity workout, soccer shoes, soccer jerseys, giuseppe zanotti, nike trainers, canada goose outlet, babyliss pro, canada goose outlet, hollister, jimmy choo shoes, uggs outlet, ugg, mcm handbags

At November 5, 2014 at 5:47 PM , Blogger oakleyses said...

moncler, moncler outlet, hollister, juicy couture outlet, ralph lauren, moncler, louis vuitton canada, montre femme, moncler, canada goose pas cher, pandora uk, parajumpers outlet, thomas sabo uk, iphone 6 case, ray ban, lancel, oakley, swarovski jewelry, supra shoes, moncler, louboutin, uggs canada, coach outlet, swarovski uk, wedding dress, ugg, canada goose, baseball bats, canada goose, timberland shoes, replica watches, pandora jewelry, gucci, moncler, converse shoes, air max, karen millen, hollister clothing, juicy couture outlet, pandora charms, hollister canada, vans, converse, links of london uk, nike air max, moncler, toms outlet, canada goose uk

At October 27, 2015 at 1:08 AM , Blogger 林磊 said...

michael kors bags
cheap jordans,jordan shoes,cheap jordan shoes
michael kors outlet
Ugg Boots Outlet Clearance,Cheap Uggs On Sale Discount For Women
coach outlet canada
Cheap Louis Vuitton Handbags Outlet
Louis Vuitton Outlet Louis Vuitton Handbags
Air Jordan 8
ugg boots sale
canada goose Jacket/Parka/Coats
Official Coach Factory Outlet Online
Michael Kors Handbags Outlet Online
michael kors uk
montblanc pen
mihchael kors bag
Mont Blanc Pens
Michael Kors Handbags Outlet Clearance
ugg boots
Coach Outlet Coach factory
ugg boots on sale
michael kors bags
michael kors outlet
canada goose sale
nike trainers
Michael Kors Outlet Online Free Shipping
tory burch sale
ray ban sunglasses outlet
coach outlet
ugg boots store
authentic louis vuitton handbags
Michael Kors Handbags Outlet
louis vuitton
Louis Vuitton Handbags Outlet
Coach Factory Outlet Coach Outlet Online
uggs outlet

At May 10, 2016 at 8:21 PM , Blogger Zheng junxai5 said...

oakley outlet
polo ralph lauren
kobe shoes
nfl jerseys
polo ralph lauren outlet
michael kors bags
coach factory outlet
kobe 8
louis vuitton purses
louis vuitton purses
true religion sale
timberland boots
louis vuitton outlet online
kids lebron shoes
coach outlet store online
insanity workout
coach outlet
coach outlet online
retro 11
michael kors outlet clearance
ralph lauren outlet
michael kors outlet
retro 11
coach factory outlet
coach outlet
michael kors outlet
coach outlet online
air jordan femme
true religion outlet
copy watches
true religion outlet store
toms outlet
kate spade
christian louboutin outlet
louis vuitton outlet online
michael kors
michael kors outlet
louis vuitton outlet
coach outlet

At April 5, 2017 at 12:18 PM , Blogger Mie Helal said...

Relevant!! Finally I've found something which helped me


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home