The Fantasy of Bipartisanship

Close observation of the Republican Party over the last 15 years had lead me to be very skeptical that they can be fruitfully engaged on a bipartisan basis.  It is delusional and perhaps dangerous to Democratic prospects to proceed on the expectaton that a candidate can "bring people together", "bridge our differences", or win over the other side to "transformational change".  Transformational change can come only when Republican numbers in the Congress are reduced to levels where they have been forced to change or become irrelevant.

Though there was a mandate for change in 1992, the Republicans set about at once to destroy the Clinton Presidency through a series of manufactured "scandals", gays in the military, Whitewater, Travelgate, etc.  I wonder how many of the young Democratic enthusiasts for bipartisanship were children then and not paying attention to politics.

Did the Republicans respect the clear mandate of the 2006 elections?  Will Mitch McConnell and the DC enforcers of Republican doctrinal purity like George Will, William Kristol, and Grover Norquist pay any attention at all to any such mandate coming out of 2008?

The Congressional Republicans are put there by reactionary States and districts, and will continue in the future to serve their corporate sponsors.  They have no compunction at all about damaging our electoral or governmental institutions if it helps them get their way.

They will attempt to destroy the new Democratic President in any way possible.  It will be rip-up-the-tracks obstructionism from day one, an abuse of whatever little power is left to them.

I don't care which Democrat wins the Presidency.  I wrote this admittedly pessimistic diary because I think our choice for President should be informed by realism about who our opponents really are, and not be overly influenced by wishful thinking about "hope" and "bridging differences".  The main consideration in our choice must be who can most effectively wage the combat that is coming before and after the election.

Tags: clinton, obama, Republicans (all tags)



Re: The Fantasy of Bipartisanship

I think your pessimism is the result of equating the Republican voter with the Republican lawmaker.  The fundamental idea behind bipartisanship is to get enough moderate Republican voters to support you, or at least listen to you, that you can actually make progress on an issue.  I don't think it's reasonable to expect the Richard Mellon Scaifes of the world to relinquish their powers.  But if the public sees and hears a reasonable person talking about reasonable solutions to real problems, I think they will give that person a listen.

Sure, there is a certain core that will eat up any muckraking done by their idealogical leaders.  I would guess that the majority of MYDD readers are such idealogues to Progressive ideas.  But there is also a very large percentage of voters who go on instinct and don't necessarily hear or care what Rush Limbaugh or Rachel Maddow have to say.  Landslides in this country occur when something like 55% of the people vote together.  If you think that basically 40% of the people are die-hard Progressives and 40% of the people are die-hard Conservatives, this means you only need to pick up 15% of the non-idealogues to create a landslide.  Those are pretty good odds.

Think about it another way.  If you don't strive for bipartisanship, then you strive for partisanship.  And what does that get you?  I would argue that the Bush II legacy is what it gets you:  Two disputed elections, a mid-30s approval rating, and ideas that have a shelf life of months rather than years.

by the mollusk 2008-01-28 05:43AM | 0 recs
striving for partisanship?
absolutely, that is why we are democrats because we feel our party is better for people.  Why the hell shouldn't we strive for partisanship?  That is what Reagan did and it worked very well for him and republicans and their agenda.  We need a candidate to do the same thing for our side and our party.  Edwards tried but he has a credibility problem.
Bush II is a disaster because he is a sick stupid unelected dope.  Partisanship has nothing to do with that.
by MollieBradford 2008-01-28 06:07AM | 0 recs
more on Edwards

unfortunately someone advised him to go the Nader route and criticize both parties.  It was stupid and part of why he is not winning any primaries.

by MollieBradford 2008-01-28 06:09AM | 0 recs
Re: The Fantasy of Bipartisanship

Yes - Obama's mantra of "bringing us all together" is a fantasy - because we will ALWAYS have a political divide.

The REAL problem in Congress is the MONEY!! - the Corporate Welfare and pay-to-play schemes orchestrated by Washington and Corporate lobbyists who have FUNDED Obama's political career.

Obama was accepting donations from Washington lobbyists a week before he entered the presidential race - at which time he announced he was "taking no donations from them."
Wow!  that was a big switch! but Obama was trying to appear like Edwards who has NEVER taken a dime from Washington lobbyists.

And Obama refused to accept Edwards pledge to reject donations from Washington lobbyists.
No Democrat has accepted that pledge.
And bu$iness as usual will continue with Obama.

by annefrank 2008-01-28 05:59AM | 0 recs


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