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The myth of bipartisanship

Posted on | November 25, 2008 | Comments Off

I have observed that the main stream media and many of our politicians talk of bipartisanship as if it were a glorious virtue in which to aspire. Many headlines are prefaced with “bipartisan effort” or “bipartisan legislation” as if that somehow makes it more valuable or even holy.

What is bipartisanship? Technically the definition is that two separate parties agree or support something. It seems that the definition has somehow been slightly changed to be equivalent to the word compromise. While both words are related, they do not mean the same thing. Compromise involves both parties conceding by degree to come to an agreement. That doesn’t mean that either party supports the same thing.

For example, I have a fundamental or core value that murder is wrong. Suppose that I have a peer who has the opposite core value, that murder is not wrong. Let us then attempt to make a policy regarding murder. I would propose that anyone who commits murder should go to jail. My peer would propose that since murder is not wrong, that no such punishment should be imposed. We now have two fundamental opinions that are opposite in nature. Since bipartisan means that we would both support or agree, then by definition, one of us would be required to cave in and “go along with” the other.

Therein lies the the problem with bipartisanship. In practical terms, someone must sacrifice their core value in order to support the other party. Why would they do this? It seems to me, that the goal of bipartisanship is to avoid hurting someones feelings, or “to get along”. Thus, the result of bipartisanship is nothing more than sacrificing a core value for some perceived civility.

I would like to see less bipartisanship in Washington DC, and more principle driven leaders that are willing to “not get along” while standing by their core value.

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