Bipartisanship Means Doing Things My Way (Pt. 2)

Bipartisanship is in the eye of the beholder. In a divided government, where one party controls either the legislative (appropriators) or executive (distributors) branch but not both, bipartisanship generally means either:
  • Bundle your best idea with my best idea and try them both.
  • Some kind of blend of our two worst ideas.
Of course in Washington (and Springfield and Albany and Baton Rouge and Tallahassee) if one party controls both the appropriating branch and the distributing branch bipartisanship really means: agree with me. My view of government's appropriate role is to ensure equality before the law and protect against force and fraud.  Of course there are other roles for government but those two are paramount.  "Fixing" problems, in which politicians get to define both the problem and the solution inevitably leads to, well you know where it inevitably leads.

I believe Obama's won't publicly flaunt his overwhelming partisan muscle but privately will flex it relentlessly to green light all the pent-up redistributionist ideas his congressional allies can conjure. Whatever his public persona, his history and ideological predisposition suggests to me he wants to move the political center leftward and be the political godfather of the dawning era of gargantuan government.

The political tailwinds Democrats enjoyed over at least the last three years would be practically impossible for even the strongest competitors to overcome. Moreover, Democrats utterly out-organized Republicans, and Republicans have become caricatures of their former selves, spending like mad and obsessing about abortion and gay marriage. The press loathes the dominant Republican view on the latter two issues. Moreover, the press has bought the bipartisan line from the administration, as though rank partisanship hasn't been a constant in the nation's 232 year history. But if Obama faced genuine political competition, the stimulus bill would either have had more input from the opposition or more debate. Maybe that's good, maybe that's bad.  My own take is that's a purely political document, one that could have been far more creative.  But if there was a compromise to be had, it's only because there's no alternative.

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