Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bipartisanship As The Cure For All Evils?

Bob Graham identifies five areas of Congressional "gridlock":
  • Huge gaps in national and homeland security;
  • Nearly 50 million Americans have no health insurance, and the number is growing;
  • We have recklessly neglected our nation's infrastructure;
  • We have no "real" energy policy;
  • Seven of 10 Americans now believe that our children will be less well off than their parents.
Although it's a bit ugly to view it this way, those five points are not the consequence of "gridlock" - they are the consequence of Republican success in controlling legislation and policy on those issues.

It is reasonable to infer that Graham is dissatisfied with the status quo, but none of his proposed reforms in the parties' nominating process, campaign finance laws, or voter education will affect this "gridlock" in the short term. And I doubt that they will have any effect in the long term. If a party wishing to break the status quo gains control of the White House and Congress, preferably with a 60-vote majority in the Senate, they have a great deal of power to implement change against the wishes of the opposition party. If you demand that there be compromise and consensus, you will never achieve the desired change, as you will always be conceding ground to the party that opposes change.

Don't speak to me of a theoretical future where the parties hold hands and merrily agree on all the major issues. Tell me how we get the necessary majority in office to effect change, even over the strong objections and obstructionist tactics of the opposition party. Certainly you can look to building a consensus greater than 51%, but at the end of the day if you want your ideas to win you had better be ready to fight for victory.

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