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Why partisanship is bad

Posted by on Feb. 6, 2014 at 5:54 PM
  • 57 Replies
1 mom liked this
This is an old article but has some great points.

People naturally disagree about who is responsible for the partisan tone and tactics in Washington these days. But most agree that it’s worse than it used to be. Few on either side are enjoying it much.

More important, this partisanship threatens a dumbing down of policy.

That said, a call for bipartisanship in foreign policy gets nowhere. For some, it sounds like a request to listen to the out-of-power party even though it never listened to those in power. To others, bipartisan implies something along the lines of “bland,” “homogenous,” “stripped of passion” or “watered down.”

But it needn’t be any of these. Webster’s defines bipartisanship as “relating to or involving members of both parties.” A policy - foreign or domestic - that’s born on one side of the aisle but nurtured and challenged by the finest minds in both parties is superior policy, plain and simple. We need to work with both halves of our collective foreign policy brain.

We saw this with President Jimmy Carter’s pursuit of the Panama Canal treaties, in which he worked closely with Senate Republican Leader Howard Baker to win passage for what was originally viewed by many to be “the great canal giveaway.”

We saw this again when President Ronald Reagan sought to protect funding for the MX missile, working closely with top Democrats Thomas S. Foley, Les Aspin, Al Gore and others and later establishing the bipartisan Scowcroft commission on nuclear modernization and arms control.

As these examples illustrate, the debate and deliberation between the parties does not need to be passionless. It doesn’t even have to be polite. It doesn’t always produce a policy that’s centrist, either.

It does, however, need to happen. Without it, policies fail to benefit from the honing fire of constructive criticism. And that’s exactly what’s happened over the past 10 years, not just the five of the Bush administrations.

The reasons are many, chief among them that few Democrats and Republicans in Washington know each other. Members of Congress blast in Tuesday morning, leave town Thursday evening, if at all possible, and live their lives in 15-minute increments while in Washington.

In the old days (and by that I mean the 1980s, when I worked on Capitol Hill), people got to know one another on the baseball field, through trips with their spouses and children and in dinners on the weekend. It’s harder to vilify someone whose son is on your son’s Little League team.

Time is somehow scarcer now, too. With the proliferation of interest groups, congressional committees, staff and hearings, there’s more to do. The tyranny of technology puts most of us within easy striking distance via BlackBerry or cell phone. There’s probably more interaction than ever before - yet less of the kind that builds friendship and trust.

The loss of the bond between Democrat and Republican has given way to a culture that discourages, and sometimes punishes, interparty deliberation and debate. Recent history offers both extremes. At times, the opposition has embraced policy without challenging it, as happened with Iraq. At other times, the opposition reflexively rejects policy without truly considering it, as happened with the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

It’s easier to define a problem than to solve it. The lack of bipartisanship is particularly nettlesome because many of the social root causes are intractable. A few institutional changes would help to foster interparty dialogue. Members of Congress, for example, should travel abroad more, not less. Travel not only educates members about the world but also helps to establish relationships across the aisle that serve the policy process so well.

But in the end, real progress will require leadership from policymakers themselves. The call is not to meet the other side halfway. It is to engage in a discussion that solicits, considers and understands criticisms and alternative proposals. To forgo the process voluntarily is to choose inferior policy.
by on Feb. 6, 2014 at 5:54 PM
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Replies (1-10):
Sisteract
by Socialist Hippie on Feb. 6, 2014 at 6:29 PM
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IMO, the powers that be love when the populous is fighting amongst one another- The DC elite, despite being R or D are all part of the same group.

It's us against them-although many seem to be ignorant to that basic fact.

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Feb. 6, 2014 at 11:57 PM
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Partisanship is not bad. Everyone has an opinion.

The difference is between thinking someone with another idea is wrong and thinking they are a bad person.

In general, conservatives think liberal ideas are wrong.

In general, liberals think conservatives are bad people.

It's really hard to agree with someone one has already decided is a bad person.

But if you just disagree with the person, it's easier coming to agreement on something.

VoodooVixen
by Bronze Member on Feb. 7, 2014 at 8:12 AM
1 mom liked this
I think you have one part wrong. Both sides have made the other side bad. Conservatives think liberals are bad and vie versa.

Quoting SallyMJ:

Partisanship is not bad. Everyone has an opinion.

The difference is between thinking someone with another idea is wrong and thinking they are a bad person.

In general, conservatives think liberal ideas are wrong.

In general, liberals think conservatives are bad people.

It's really hard to agree with someone one has already decided is a bad person.

But if you just disagree with the person, it's easier coming to agreement on something.

Debrowsky
by Silver Member on Feb. 7, 2014 at 9:31 AM
3 moms liked this

from what I've witnessed over the years, I'd have to say she's correct.

Quoting VoodooVixen: I think you have one part wrong. Both sides have made the other side bad. Conservatives think liberals are bad and vie versa.

Quoting SallyMJ:

Partisanship is not bad. Everyone has an opinion.

The difference is between thinking someone with another idea is wrong and thinking they are a bad person.

In general, conservatives think liberal ideas are wrong.

In general, liberals think conservatives are bad people.

It's really hard to agree with someone one has already decided is a bad person.

But if you just disagree with the person, it's easier coming to agreement on something.


Debrowsky
by Silver Member on Feb. 7, 2014 at 9:34 AM
3 moms liked this

Liberals/progressives have pushed for such radical shifts in this country, that it's no wonder there is rising tensions and hard line disagreements.  Our President leads the pack on this.  He drives the wedge deeper and deeper with every stroke of his pen. 

I'm looking for opposition to what he does, not compliance.  some things are worth fighting for. 

VoodooVixen
by Bronze Member on Feb. 7, 2014 at 9:48 AM
1 mom liked this

I don't think SallyMJ is completely right.  Both sides are guilty of villifying the other. 

As for Liberals and progressives pushing for more radical shifts the Conservatives have asked the same.  Each side has extremes and that is what the country doesn't need.  President Obama is having this issue now and is rightfully feeling the backlash.  But he isn't the only one swinging that axe and making the wedge in this country deeper.  We can look to many people on both sides of the aisle in Congress for this as well.

Quoting Debrowsky:

Liberals/progressives have pushed for such radical shifts in this country, that it's no wonder there is rising tensions and hard line disagreements.  Our President leads the pack on this.  He drives the wedge deeper and deeper with every stroke of his pen. 

I'm looking for opposition to what he does, not compliance.  some things are worth fighting for. 


Debrowsky
by Silver Member on Feb. 7, 2014 at 9:55 AM
1 mom liked this

I guess we'll have to respectfully disagree on this.     shake hand

Quoting VoodooVixen:

I don't think SallyMJ is completely right.  Both sides are guilty of villifying the other. 

As for Liberals and progressives pushing for more radical shifts the Conservatives have asked the same.  Each side has extremes and that is what the country doesn't need.  President Obama is having this issue now and is rightfully feeling the backlash.  But he isn't the only one swinging that axe and making the wedge in this country deeper.  We can look to many people on both sides of the aisle in Congress for this as well.

Quoting Debrowsky:

Liberals/progressives have pushed for such radical shifts in this country, that it's no wonder there is rising tensions and hard line disagreements.  Our President leads the pack on this.  He drives the wedge deeper and deeper with every stroke of his pen. 

I'm looking for opposition to what he does, not compliance.  some things are worth fighting for. 



VoodooVixen
by Bronze Member on Feb. 7, 2014 at 10:02 AM
3 moms liked this

At least we can be respectful about it :)  Have a great morning!

high five

Quoting Debrowsky:

I guess we'll have to respectfully disagree on this.     shake hand

Quoting VoodooVixen:

I don't think SallyMJ is completely right.  Both sides are guilty of villifying the other. 

As for Liberals and progressives pushing for more radical shifts the Conservatives have asked the same.  Each side has extremes and that is what the country doesn't need.  President Obama is having this issue now and is rightfully feeling the backlash.  But he isn't the only one swinging that axe and making the wedge in this country deeper.  We can look to many people on both sides of the aisle in Congress for this as well.

Quoting Debrowsky:

Liberals/progressives have pushed for such radical shifts in this country, that it's no wonder there is rising tensions and hard line disagreements.  Our President leads the pack on this.  He drives the wedge deeper and deeper with every stroke of his pen. 

I'm looking for opposition to what he does, not compliance.  some things are worth fighting for. 




numbr1wmn
by Nikki on Feb. 7, 2014 at 10:03 AM
3 moms liked this

Problem now is that if we disagree with Obama and his policies we have been LABELED Racists and for this very reason Sally is 100%.

PamR
by Gold Member on Feb. 7, 2014 at 10:05 AM
2 moms liked this


Quoting SallyMJ:

Partisanship is not bad. Everyone has an opinion.

The difference is between thinking someone with another idea is wrong and thinking they are a bad person.

In general, conservatives think liberal ideas are wrong.

In general, liberals think conservatives are bad people.

It's really hard to agree with someone one has already decided is a bad person.

But if you just disagree with the person, it's easier coming to agreement on something.

There's a difference between everyone having an opinion and partisanship.  Right now, many of our elected officials oppose or support things merely because of party affiliation and not what is right/wrong or what their constituents want.  If the D's are in favor of something, the R's are against it.  And visa versa.  And the result is gridlock.

In general, liberals think conservatives are bad people? Really?  I don't think that most people are that simplistic. 

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