Someone once said Republicans are the party of bad ideas, while Democrats are the party of no ideas. And there’s nothing worse than when the two join forces and say, “Hey, let’s team up and see how we can make that bad idea of yours even worse”.
Let’s talk about bipartisanship. The term’s been thrown around a lot lately, but what does a “bipartisan bill” or “working in a bipartisan manner” really mean? On a literal level, it means Democrats and Republicans are working together to accomplish something. I think it also suggests some sort of noble compromise, a setting aside of petty ideologies for the greater good. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Politicians are right up there with used car salesman for most folks, so any time they’re on speaking terms with one another and not simply pipelining pork back to their districts, it seems like a good thing.
I’d like to suggest that it’s not.
When people choose cooperation over fighting, it’s usually a good thing. But not always. Our Founding Fathers (and their wives, I’m certain), constructed a government that was intentionally branched to provide checks and balances on power. We have the—c’mon folks, say it with me—the Executive branch, the Legislative branch and the Judicial branch. Each has a role and each has some authority to rein in the others’ power (though the Judicial branch is probably a good deal more unfettered than was intended).
What happens, though, when one party gains control of all three branches? Do the checks and balances work as intended? Not really, which brings me to my point. Some people complain that Republicans are becoming the party of “no.” Fine. People will complain. They want their change and they want it now. But in the long run, if the minority opposition doesn’t stay vocal and adversarial, they grant far too much power to the majority. It is their responsibility to say “no” whenever they feel it’s needed, and they shouldn’t be ashamed or cowed in doing so.
The same really holds true for both Democrats and Republicans. Either party, with majority control of all three branches, has potential for great abuses of power. I will say, though, that the Democrats’ intrinsic fondness for big government does exacerbate the problem of one-party rule, though Republicans have certainly not shied away from enlarging government in recent years.
So, regardless of your political affiliation, let’s stop assuming bipartisanship is always a good thing and acknowledge that partisanship is not only typical but necessary for a healthy democracy. Let’s hear it for the dissenters!