What bipartisanship has wrought

PHOTO: Holding hands on the beach

Watch cable news for a few hours and you’ll pickup on the idea that Washington DC is so screwed up because of partisan gridlock. Or more simply, Democrats and Republicans cant agree on anything and so nothing gets done. It’s also an idea based on tone; how can you get things done if everyone is so darn mean to each other?

It’s a nice idea, but it’s not really true. The last eight years have seen seismic shifts in US policy, usually for the worse, and these shifts have been supported by both parties:

Look at every major Bush initiative, every controversial signature Bush policy over the last eight years, and one finds virtually nothing but massive bipartisan support for them — the Patriot Act (original enactment and its renewal); the invasion of Afghanistan; the attack on, and ongoing occupation of, Iraq; the Military Commissions Act (authorizing enhanced interrogation techniques, abolishing habeas corpus, and immunizing war criminals); expansions of warrantless eavesdropping and telecom immunity; declaring part of Iran’s government to be “terrorists”; our one-sided policy toward Israel; the $700 billion bailout; The No Child Left Behind Act, “bankruptcy reform,” and on and on. Most of those were all enacted with virtually unanimous GOP support and substantial, sometimes overwhelming, Democratic support:  the very definition of “bipartisanship.”

Democrats have long used the flag of bipartisanship to hide the flag of surrender they were waiving to their Republican colleagues. Liberal constituencies were ignored and bipartisanship flourished. If you believe, as I do, that Democratic policies – while often odious – are vastly superior to Republican policies, then what we need is more partisanship from the Democrats and more bipartisanship from the Republicans.

Flickr photo by mikebaird


  1. Diane

    Well the Congress has the eyes of the Nation on them and there will be no more excuses except bad bills that keep them from working together.

    It will be interesting to see what happens, if the republicans starts off conciliatory and then get more confident and arrogant or if they will just start off arrogant.

    I’ll be very curious to see how the Dems handle power.
    I hope it does not corrupt us the way it did Repubs.

  2. Chris

    The Dems should be given a fair shake at governing the country before we start complaining too much. But much of the Democratic Party is already corrupt and prepared to sell out large constituencies of Dreaded Liberals.

    After all, this is still largely the same party that openly supported many of the worst crimes and excesses of the Bush administration even when it was unpopular to do so.

  3. Ian

    With the current majority in congress, the Republicans can do whatever they want and it won’t matter. As long as the Democrats stick together.