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James Fallows: Bipartisanship will never work when Repubs are rewarded for extreme partisanship

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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-03-10 09:42 AM
Original message
James Fallows: Bipartisanship will never work when Repubs are rewarded for extreme partisanship
Edited on Wed Feb-03-10 10:02 AM by BurtWorm
He's quoting an e-mail from a friend with "many decades of experience in national politics":

http://jamesfallows.theatlantic.com/archives/2010/02/wh...

...

"GOP member: 'I'd like this in the bill.'

"Dem member response: 'If we put it in, will you vote for the bill?'

"GOP member: 'You know I can't vote for the bill.'

"Dem member: 'Then why should we put it in the bill?'


...


"Bipartisanship in the American sense means compromising on legislation so that a sufficient number of members of Congress from BOTH parties will support it, even if (as is typically the case) a few majority party members defect and most minority party members don't join. Bipartisanship consists of getting ENOUGH members of the minority party to join the (incomplete) majority in voting for major legislation. It can't happen if the minority party members vote as a block against major legislation. And that can happen only if the minority party has the ability to discipline its ranks so that none join the majority, which is the unprecedented situation we've got in Congress today.

"The way parliamentary parties maintain their discipline is straightforward. No candidate can run for office using the party label unless the party bestows that label upon him or her. And usually, the party itself and not the candidate raises and controls all the campaign funds. As every political scientist knows, the fact that in the U.S. any candidate can pick his or her own party label without needing anyone else's approval, and can also raise his or her own campaign funds, is why there cannot be and never really has been any sustained party discipline before -- even though it is a feature of parliamentary systems.

"The GOP now maintains party discipline by the equivalent of a parliamentary party's tools: The GOP can effectively deny a candidate the party label (by running a more conservative GOP candidate against him or her), and the GOP can also provide the needed funds to the candidate of the party's choice. And every GOP member of Congress knows it. (Snowe and Collins may be immune, but that's about it.)

"I've missed almost all the punditry this past week... but what I've seen seems almost like a lot of misleading fluff designed to fill the void that should follow an understanding of the foregoing, at least on the subject of 'why no bipartisanship?' There's really nothing more to be said about "why no bipartisanship," once one recognizes the GOP party discipline. On this issue, it's absolutely astounding to blame Obama or even the Congressional leadership (although Pelosi and Reid leave much to be desired otherwise). It's doubly astounding that the GOP did it once before, less perfectly, but with a very large reward for bad behavior in the form of the 1994 mid-term elections. Yet no one calls them on it effectively, and bad behavior seems about to be rewarded again..."




<h/t digby>
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existentialist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-03-10 09:52 AM
Response to Original message
1. So, logically, we must call them on it.
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-03-10 09:57 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Apparently Obama is working on making this paradox well known to the American people.
That's why he wanted the Q&A last Friday televised. He wants to force the Repubs to take responsibility for inaction in Congress. I have to admit, I'm skeptical about his prospects for success because there is no downside right now for Republicans to sit on their impacted bowels and do nothing but bellyache.
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existentialist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-03-10 10:21 AM
Response to Reply #2
7. Yes, and on this matter he deserves support.
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Proud Liberal Dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-03-10 10:00 AM
Response to Original message
3. Can somebody explain this to me:
Edited on Wed Feb-03-10 10:01 AM by Proud Liberal Dem
Whenever the Democrats are in power, the corporate mediawhores continually remind us that we need to bend over backwards, frontwards, sidewards, etc. to be "bipartisan" because they say that the majority of Americans claim to want "bipartisanship" and for Republicans and Democrats to work together for the good of the American people............blah, blah, blah.

BUT

NOBODY, at least aside from President Obama and maybe a few other people, EVER call the Repubs out for their explicit and vile partisanship, obstructionism, unwillingness to work with Democrats and they end up getting rewarded in the end with more seats in Congress and more power? Seems to me that the need for "bipartisanship" doesn't apply to Republicans.

I appreciate what President Obama is doing and that he is interested in genuine bipartisanship and people working together for the common good is the ideal but I would like to see more Democrats, friendly pundits, etc. calling the Repubs out about THEIR lack of bipartisanship. Kudos to Fallows for pointing this out.

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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-03-10 10:03 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. They also get on Dems' backs when they're in the minority for not being 'bipartisan'
Bipartisan really means Republican.
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Proud Liberal Dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-03-10 10:17 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. Yeah I think that's what it's really about
Edited on Wed Feb-03-10 10:21 AM by Proud Liberal Dem
It's almost like the Democrats being in power, particularly when we have all three branches of government inherently victimizes the poor Republicans :nopity: and then we are expected to waste time placating/soothing/pacifying them by being "bipartisan" because heaven forbid the Democrats actually, well, reverse all of the horrendous things they've done while they were in power and try to make things better for the American public. :eyes: :banghead:

When the Democrats are in the minority, they're endlessly accused of obstructionism and lack of "bipartisanship" even though the Democrats seemed to obstruct far less under Bush (and other Republican Presidents?) than the Repubs have under Clinton and Obama. So, either way, the Dems are ALWAYS victimizing the poor Repubs. I'm no psychiatrist but it would seem to me that the Repubs seem to have some kind of severe delusional persecution complex that needs to be treated.
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bbgrunt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-03-10 11:08 AM
Response to Reply #3
9. you answered your own question: "corporate mediawhores"
the media is not your friend.
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Proud Liberal Dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-03-10 11:30 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. Yes
Edited on Wed Feb-03-10 11:30 AM by Proud Liberal Dem
and unfortunately, a lot of Democrats listen to and worry about THEY think. :banghead: President Obama somehow needs to get them to peel their ears off of what the pundits are saying and to listen to what their constituents ("the public") want rather than what the Repubs and their "corporate mediawhore"-enablers (say that they) want.
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Blackhatjack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-03-10 10:10 AM
Response to Original message
5. From Day One 'Bipartisanship' Has Been Only A Word To Be Exploited By Republicans
Name one piece of legislation proposed by Democrats in which Republicans have voted in favor of?

Just has not happened and will not happen.

Their goal is to block everything and make Obama a failure for getting nothing through Congress.
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autorank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-03-10 10:31 AM
Response to Original message
8. Bipartisanship means we're really screwed as opposed to just sort of screwed. k*r
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