Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I Don’t Think “Bipartisan” Means What He Thinks It Means

I rarely blog about Tennessee politics, especially those races where I don’t even live in the district. However, this snippet from WPLN’s interview with Monty Lankford , one of the Republicans vying for Democrat Lincoln Davis’ Congressional seat, struck me as emblematic of Republican attitudes:
At a stop in Nashville today, Lankford says congress has become too polarized and he’d like to work in a bi-partisan fashion. But he says that only goes so far.

Well I’d certainly like to work with any of them that work with our ideology. I’m not willing to compromise our values and to me, unfortunately, that is what Lincoln has done. He’ll talk about his values and he’ll say for instance, ‘I’m pro-life,’ but he goes to Washington and votes for Nancy Pelosi which totally knocks him out of the ability to push that agenda.”

Okay, Monty, honey, I know you are new to politics but let me explain to you what “bipartisan” means. It does not mean Democrats must come around to the Republican way of thinking and do everything that the Republicans say (or, for that matter, vice versa). It does mean both parties working together, each side offering compromises, to achieve goals beneficial to both party’s constituents.

But don't take my word for it. Here is Wiki’s definition:

In a two-party system (such as in the United States), bipartisan refers to any bill, act, resolution, or any other action of a political body in which both of the major political parties are in agreement. Often, compromises are called bipartisan if they reconcile the desires of both parties from an original version of legislation or other proposal. Failure to attain bipartisan support in such a system can easily lead to gridlock, often angering each other and their constituents.

Bipartisanship can also be between two opposite groups (e.g. liberal and conservative) to agree and determine a plan of action on an urgent matter that is of great importance to their voters.

Some key words worth remembering here are agreement, compromise, and reconciliation.

This is not how our Congress works anymore. For the past 15 years, Republican “bipartisanship” has meant Democrats shut up and Republicans do whatever they want. Even now, with Democrats holding an oh-so-slim majority in the Senate, “60 is the new 50”; Republicans threaten to fillibuster anything and everything, and gridlock is the rule.

And it all goes back to that basic idea that Monty Lankford expressed yesterday: bipartisan is great, as long as you do what I want, my way. Democrats, on the other hand, continually piss off liberal bloggers and lefty activists by their willingness to compromise our values in the interest of keeping legislation moving (yes, even I have been angered by some of our Democrats in Congress). A perfect example is the many compromises Senate Dems have made on the Iraq War.

So if you want gridlock, people, keep voting Republican.