On the front of Politico is an article about how the big bipartisan deals that used to be relatively common in Congress now appear to be a thing of the past. From Politico:
Call it the Split the Difference Scenario — a dream of Washington at its civic-minded best that has flourished for decades, even as the reality of Washington became ever more snarling and contentious.
Sometimes, the dream even came true, in iconic closed-door moments: a bipartisan bargain over Social Security in 1983, a high-drama budget summit at Andrews Air Force Base in 1990, a landmark spending accord between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich in 1997.
The striking fact about Washington at the start of 2012 is how many people, in public and private, say they have concluded that the capital is no longer a city of splittable differences.
I’m personally more than happy to see that so called “grand” bipartisan deals are dead and that the American political system is finally coming to the conclusion that it will need to adjust to this new reality.
At their core these bipartisan deals were and are about destroying basic democratic accountability. When you have only two viable parties, and they both agree on some big proposal, it makes impossible to hold anyone accountable or punish the offending parties in the next election. Since they both are equally to blame, then no one is to blame.
The idea that bipartisanship is some inherent good valued above all else has only encouraged American politicians to become extreme liars. They know they can promise things they never intend to deliver on, because they can always place the blame on the need for bipartisan consensus dicatated by the silly Senate rules. The fact that there is still some argument about whether Obama really did or did not sell out the public option shows how perfectly this “need for bipartisan consensus” scheme hides even the most basic facts from voters.
There is nothing wrong with a party running on its platform, then implementing that platform if elected. If people don’t like the result, they can vote for a new party with a different platform and expect it to be implemented. This is how most democracies work.