Is Bipartisanship Dead Or Merely Asleep?

Many of us have often spoken of ‘bipartisanship’, especially as it relates to the business of the United States Congress.  It’s a no-brainer, for no one party has all the best ideas and a collaboration between both parties is likely to lead to laws that are fair to all.  In theory, at least.  Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson gives us his views on bipartisanship and how impossible it has become in the reality of today’s political climate …


Bipartisanship is overrated, especially with these Republicans

Opinion by 

Eugene Robinson

Columnist

May 27, 2021 at 4:07 p.m. EDT

Bipartisanship is overrated. President Biden and Democrats in Congress should stop fetishizing it and get on with the work they know must be done.

Of course, it would be nice if a serious, responsible Republican Party willing to stand up for its principles, make substantive policy proposals and negotiate in good faith existed. As is becoming obvious, though — even to the high priest of the hands-across-the-aisle cult, Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) — no such Republican Party exists. Today’s GOP is so unserious and unprincipled that it will not even support a blue-ribbon commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

“There is no excuse for any Republican to vote against this commission since Democrats have agreed to everything they asked for,” Manchin said Thursday on Twitter. “[Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell has made this his political position, thinking it will help his 2022 elections. They do not believe the truth will set you free, so they continue to live in fear.”

His continued fealty to the filibuster notwithstanding, Manchin’s statement seemed intended to draw a line in the sand beyond which he’s not willing to give McConnell an effective veto over almost all legislation in the name of process.

If so, it’s about time. Voters snatched control of the Senate away from the Republicans and handed it to the Democrats. It’s reasonable to assume that those voters wanted forthright leadership, not hapless surrender.

McConnell’s decision to oppose the Jan. 6 commission is the perfect test case for the starry-eyed view — held by Manchin, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), and a few others who are less vocal about it — that the Senate can still be made to function the way it did in the past.

Even though McConnell declared earlier this month that “one hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration,” surely the GOP would agree that there should be a comprehensive, nonpartisan investigation of the violent invasion of the Capitol, which left scores of police officers injured and endangered members of Congress as well as then-vice president Mike Pence. Surely, as Manchin said Thursday, there must be at least 10 Republicans willing to vote to advance legislation that has already been shaped and reshaped to accommodate the GOP’s demands. Right?

Wrong. Given McConnell’s opposition, only a few GOP senators seem prepared to support the commission bill. The Capitol had not been breached since British troops sacked and burned it in 1814. But McConnell and the Republicans are taking the position that there is nothing worthwhile to be learned by a wide-angle investigation, conducted in a setting less rancorous than congressional committees, and that it is already time to move on.

McConnell’s reasons are purely political. He does not want to anger former president Donald Trump, whose support he and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) believe they need to regain control of Congress in 2022. He does not want GOP senators and House members to have to answer inconvenient questions about their own possible roles in the Jan. 6 insurrection. He does not want Republican candidates having to answer questions about Trump’s “stolen election” lies as they campaign for the midterm elections. And he does not want to give Biden and the Democrats anything they can tout as a “win.”

The question that Biden, Manchin and others obsessed with bipartisanship must ask themselves is this: If Republicans will filibuster and block a thorough investigation into a shocking, violent, unprecedented attack on our democracy, why would they hesitate to obstruct everything else the Democrats might propose, no matter how worthy or necessary?

The White House described the Republican counteroffer on the infrastructure bill as “encouraging.” Given that the proposal nominally spends only about half of what Biden has proposed — and actually allocates even less new funding overall and none for initiatives Biden describes as vital, such as moving to a clean-energy economy — it’s more of an insult.

The GOP appears to see political benefit in coming to an agreement on police reform. But it is unclear whether those negotiations will actually reach the finish line.

And federal legislation to guarantee voting rights — an urgent priority for the Democratic Party — is a total nonstarter for Republicans. Their strategy for regaining power in 2022 appears to consist of putting as many obstacles as possible between the Democratic-leaning electorate and the ballot box.

None of this looks encouraging to me. None of it is good-faith engagement. The only glimmer of light is Manchin’s growing frustration with McConnell’s obstructionism.

Bipartisan consensus on these issues would be ideal. A sincere effort to improve Democratic bills would at least be something. But the alternative cannot be to let Republicans control the Biden administration’s agenda. Choosing powerlessness in the name of an abstract principle isn’t just weak. It’s an unseemly sacrifice of everything else Democrats say matters.

19 thoughts on “Is Bipartisanship Dead Or Merely Asleep?

    • For those in power, it is a game with very high stakes, and for those of us who elect them and pay their salaries, it is a very dangerous thing, for we are the pawns in their game. Our lives do not matter as long as they can keep their power and increase their wealth. Sigh. xx

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      • Thats true, and its shouting for changes. Maybe we will have soon, what other regions on this world had the last hundred years. I always call “revolution” the “evolution 2.0”. 😉 Be prepared, it will arriving over night. ;-( xx

        Liked by 1 person

        • I have heard rumblings that make me very nervous. Well, perhaps not so much nervous as … angry. Rumblings that some in this country will take up arms against the government if they don’t get their way. I just can’t grasp that this is the same country I’ve lived in for all these years. Even people I’ve known for decades aren’t the same people anymore. Sigh. xx

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              • Honestly, i think the migration will never end. We in the formerly democratized countries had watched the goings-on in the dictatorships for too long. Money for development aid enabled only a few families in this country to have a good life. I experience it here. In this place, according to a current research, over 80% of the population are related to each other in only four bloodlines. Incest existed in the Free State of Bavaria until 1930. 😉 xx Michael

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                • It sounds like your country is not so very different from mine, Michael. Here, a relative few are so wealthy that they could never spend all their money if they tried, while 99% of us struggle to keep the bills paid and buy food. And our government keeps passing laws that give to the rich at the expense of the poor — rather a reverse Robin Hood. That research is jaw-dropping … 80%????? Wow. xx

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                  • Maybe, Jill! But the wealth of your rich are from former work, or inheritances. Here its from political games, and former so-called “load balancing”. All those who were expelled from the former German areas in the east received some money from the state until today. But all those who lived here forever and whose husbands and sons were at war received at best a little pension, when the men died in the war. So we ended up being taken over by these people. People whose ancestors made the Nazi regime possible. xx

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                    • I didn’t realize that … never really thought about it! Thank you, Michael, for helping me to understand a bit better. I resent those here who have so much money, but refuse to even pay taxes, let alone help others. But if I were in your country, knowing that those wealthiest made their money from the cruelty of the Nazis, I would be even more furious. As I said, I never really thought about it that way before. xx

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    • You are so right, Ned … we cannot afford to allow the likes of Mitch McConnell to continue blocking every single thing as he has pledged to do. Apparently those oaths of office mean very little to some. Thanks for the reblog!!!

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  1. Jill, two comments plus a throw-in. First, the corollary to neither side having all of the good ideas, both sides have plenty of bad ones. The bad ones are not normally distributed, with a heavy dose in the adrift Republican Party, but the Democrats are not without some ideas that need improvement. For example, both sides have shown a lack of interest in paying for things.

    Second, for the above reason, the sides need to work together, because I am tired of important things not getting done. We have had infrastructure needs and issues for ten years. Outside of some targeted help that John Boehner helped push through before he retired in 2015, we have been lacking in this area. Get something done folks.

    The throw-in is this. Mitch McConnell and other Republican’s unwillingness to seat a commission to look at the January 6 insurrection on the Capitol is malfeasance and a violation of their oath to the constitution. Marco Rubio said it would make Republicans look bad. Yes, it will as with the former president’s involvement and the rationalization of such by his sycophants, it should be bad. But, regardless of party, we cannot let this happen again. It was a shameful period in our country, aided and abetted by its commander in chief.

    Keith

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    • Well said. At present, it seems that most of the really bad ideas are coming from the Republican camp, and like you, I’m tired of nothing getting done because Mitch McConnell has made it his personal goal to obstruct anything and everything that President Biden proposes. Until the last day or two, I was all for ‘working together’, for compromise and bipartisan solutions, but after today, let the Democrats shove the Republicans into a closet somewhere so we can get down to the business of helping people, of uncovering truths that have been buried for far too long. This nation needs leadership, not a bunch of pansies who are so scared of the former guy that they ask his permission before they go pee!

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  2. As alwys he speaks total sense. The Democrats must beware allowing Mitch’s obstructionism making them bend over so far backwards that Republicans steer the Democrats proposals. They must do what has to be done in order to make progress and if that means going back on their agreement regarding th filibuster so be it. Manchin and Sinema should support that in the name of moving ahead.
    Cwtch

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    • Until this week, I was all for compromise, but the Republicans have proven to us today that they are not interested in the people of this nation, are not interested in doing their job, not interested in their Oath of Office … they are interested only in their own power and wealth. So, take the gloves off and let’s shove them aside while we work to actually get things done … without Moscow Mitch and his band of merry men. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
      Cwtch

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  3. It has been obvious for some time that bipartisanship is dead. Dems should stop pretending otherwise, fight the GOP tooth and nail, and let the chips fall where they may. Time’s a-wastin’.

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    • A few months ago, I might have disagreed with you, but today … all bets are off. The Republican Party has become something alien, a party completely uninterested in the people, but only in their own lust for power and money. It’s time to go around them, over the top of them, or whatever it takes to do something positive here.

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