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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Myth of the Bipartisan Initiative

From a Globe and Mail article on Obama's decision to provide steadfast support rather than retreat over the issue of health-care reform:
But the price of victory was steep. His decision to follow Ms. Pelosi’s advice and press on with health-care reform in the face of Republican antipathy effectively killed any hope of negotiating bipartisan compromises on other issues.
Was that ever an actual hope in the first place, however? With the right-wing descending in outright lunacy between vitriolic ignorance, the heckling jeers of "Baby-killer", and "You lie!" reality-denying outbursts, one wonders just how bipartisan compromise could be expected in the first place.

There is more to say on this topic, but the current political discourse in our southern neighbours is highly stressful and disheartening, so I will just leave it there for now.

5 comments:

Robert said...

I think people get too hung up on "bipartisanship." Not everyone is going to agree on everything, and we did not set up this country to run on a Quaker like consensus. It country was set up to run under a simple majority rule, 50% plus 1. But it seems that the media narrative is that is not the way the country was set up, instead, if the minority does not go along with the majority, then somehow it is a bad deal that people do not support. Well, everyone is not going to support everything anyone does or wants to do. With regards to health care, guess what, Obama ran on providing a national health insurance exchange and establishing a public option that everyone in the country could buy into if they wanted. This proposal was extremely popular, and part of the reason he one. The proposal that passed looks little like this proposal. This bill is a bipartisan bill, that Republicans should have supported. The only reason they did not is because they have a greater loyalty toward their party than their ideology. In the long run, they made the decision that, no matter how conservative the bill actually was (and this bill is a conservative bill), they were better served in the up coming elections by stonewalling democrats, making it impossible for them to do anything, and by scaremongering regarding the contents of the bill.

Obama talked about this I think in the Q&A session he did with the Republicans at their little off-year convention, by saying that the bill will kill grandma, that it is some sort of socialist communist plot, they have put themselves in a position where politically they can not even negotiate with the democrats. sad shit.

Mozglubov said...

That's the thing - any chance of bipartisanship (without even engaging whether or not bipartisanship is actually something to strive for) has long been dead once the Republican party somehow came to the conclusion that the best thing to do was make sure the Democratic Party was unable to pass anything. The thing I find frustrating and baffling is how well that worked, and how watered down the bill had to become just to get the Democrats to vote for it.

Paul Kishimoto said...

The political right has no monopoly on this approach. Democrats certainly found obstructionism useful while Republicans were in control of Congress.

The real culprit is a scorekeeping-based system of political reporting that tallies points on the basis on soundbites instead of guiding the public and lawmakers to identify and expand common ground. If no journalist saw fit to report idiotic phrases like "death panels", no politician would bother using them.

Mozglubov said...

Paul, I agree with you to an extent (such as much of the burden of the current political climate being placed upon the media), but at the same time I think it is disingenuous to dismiss the response of the Republican party to Obama's presidency (and the health care bill in particular) as equivalent to previous party politics in general. I openly admit possible bias in this case, as I tend to adhere to a liberal political philosophy, but I would need an extensive set of examples to convince me of equivalence in the actions of Democrats under Bush and Republicans under Obama. If you really think they are equivalent, let me know and we can have a discussion on the matter.

Robert said...

I agree too Paul, with your second comment 10,000,000%

As for the second comment, yes, Democrats did find "obstructionism" useful. But not nearly to the extent that the Republicans are doing now. Most bills did pass in the senate with less than 60 votes, which meant that democrats where voting to close of debate on a subject, knowing that a vote was coming that they would lose. And this was on major legislation, like the medicare drug bill. Republicans have felt it necessary to require 60 votes on nearly every single piece of legislation.

The numbers do bare this out. Once the republicans lost control of the Senate, they started filibustering at historic rates. The dems, during the bush years, saved their filibustering for only the most controversial of judge appointments, for example (and the tax cuts). At least that is my view of it. And, the media perspection around the fillibuster has changed. The primary media narrative when dems did it was negative on the dems. that the fillibuster was somehow an undemocratic thing. Now, for the most part, it is taken simply as a point of fact that 60 votes are needed to pass legislation, because everything will be fillibustered.