Historical context to this "bipartisanship" idea

by phil on Tuesday Mar 3, 2009 7:07 PM
good ol' history

Just noticed this FOX Forum post by Richard Miller titled, Blaming Rush, with this interesting assumption

But in fairness to my few liberal friends, I should concede that there is nothing illegitimate about these efforts. Political parties aren't in the business of bipartisanship or creating even temporary across-the-aisle coalitions.


The historical reason for political parties is to emphasize the differences, not the similarities with the opposition. They must do so in order to retain, increase and exhort members.

Things weren't always like this. This, according to Hendrik Hertzberg's comment in The New Yorker titled, Partisanship, be the Bye:

McConnell's vision of "the Europeanization of America" has already come true in a way that bears directly on the question of "bipartisanship": what might be called America's parliamentary parties have come to resemble their disciplined European counterparts. As recently as the nineteen-sixties, for reasons of history and origins, the Democrats were a stapled-together collection of Southern reactionaries, big-city hacks, and urban and agrarian liberals; the Republicans were a jumble of troglodyte conservatives, Yankee moderates, and the odd progressive. Ideological incoherence made bipartisanship feasible. The post-civil-rights, post-Vietnam realignment, along with the gerrymandered creation of safe districts, has given us--on Capitol Hill, at least--an almost uniformly rightist G.O.P. and a somewhat less uniformly progressive array of Democrats.

In 1981, President Reagan's tax cuts passed with the help of forty-eight cross-party votes in the House and thirty-seven in the Senate. Obama's stimulus got zero and three, respectively.

I love it when just a quick dab of history changes perspectives. Bipartisanship is possible. Political pundits love stirring controversy by daring to encourage partisanship.

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