UPDATE: SENATE DOES AWAY WITH FILIBUSTER FOR JUDICIAL NOMINEES (EXCEPT SUPREME COURT) AND EXECUTIVE BRANCH APPOINTEES. IT IS A START!
NYT: “Senate Democrats are on the verge of moving to eliminate the use of the filibuster against most presidential nominees, aides and senior party leaders said Wednesday, a move that would deprive Republicans of their ability to block President Obama’s picks for cabinet posts and the federal judiciary and further erode what little bipartisanship still exists in the Senate.”
Now I think this sentence reflects an implicit assumption on the conventional wisdom on bipartisanship. Let’s define the word and think about it: Does it mean, which I think is generally accepted, that politicians work across the isle to find solutions to our problems? That is what Americans want to see, right? “I wish they would quick arguing and get to work.” I like the Wikipedia definition better:
Bipartisanship is a political situation, usually in the context of a two-party system, in which opposing political parties find common ground[disambiguation needed] through compromise, in theory. Realistically, each party advances their own political agenda at the expense of the other party because of the conflicting ideologies.
The important thing to note here is that because the Republicans are in the minority and their political agenda is so at odds with Democrats, compromise is mostly impossible so they just block all action. The history of the Republicans since Obama came into office is obstructionism which tells you there is no common ground.
So let’s deconstruct. In both definitions there is an assumption of common ground. Seen any lately? Oh, wait there was that immigration bill in the Senate where there was compromise. Democrats got a path, albeit long and arduous, to citizenship, while the Republicans got a militarized border that makes the Berlin Wall look quaint. But the real interest of the two parties were not aligned. Democrats wanted to try to solve the problem of undocumented workers and their children in our country and Republicans wanted a token bill so they could maybe get some Hispanic votes. The bill is going no-where because there will be no compromise from Republicans in the House.
Meanwhile back at the bipartisan ranch, lets look at common interests that are required for it to operate. Do Republicans care about insuring Americans or fixing healthcare? Of course not. They have tried to defund Obamacare 43 times, run ads attempting to sabotage the system, and have tried to block implementation at every step. If they had any common ground, they would have a plan of their own that addresses these problems.
Democrats want to create jobs by cutting austerity and investing in infrastructure. Think that is going anywhere. Democrats and Republicans see the economy in two very different ways. One party wants to maintain the status quo, cut taxes, and believes in flowdown, and the other one is looking to make the tax system more equitable, and have government invest in tomorrow. If we had any common ground there would have been some weak bill a long time ago.
So my point is simply this: There is no common ground anymore, one party representing the status quo and a failed economic system, and the other, looking for answers. To want bipartisanship is to want policy that is filled with failed ideas. One party wants to address real problems, the other lives in fantasyland unfazed by reality or data. And you want bipartisanship?
Now the latest blowup is about the DC Circuit of Appeals’ three vacancies which the Republicans have decided does not need to be filled until they get control of the Senate again. And as the NYT noted, “Democrats got a reminder of how conservatively the court tends to lean when Judge Janice Rogers Brown, a Bush appointee, wrote an opinion last month declaring that the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that employers provide free coverage for contraception was an infringement of individual religious liberty. “ Extending that logic, employers can make any decision they want about your healthcare. This is a result of the court being packed by right wing nuts. Well it is our turn to try to balance it and there is no middle ground.
As one woman from Texas put it (and I am paraphrasing), she was made as hell at Harry Reid and the Democrats for not taking action sooner. She did not want another generation of daughters at the mercy of right wing judges who would see them barefoot and pregnant. So let’s hope this time the Democrats don’t find another compromise that won’t work just like all the others. There is no common ground as the right has gone way to far right, bipartisanship is a trap, and we need to restore majority rule, not tyranny of the minority. Gut up Harry and clueless Democrats. That would be Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein from California and I have let them know my displeasure, have you?