I Don't Want to Grow Up, I'm a Bipartisan Kid

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God bless media synergy: It turns this advertisement for an embarrassing idea on the insidery HotSoup website into a simulacrum of a news story. A Marylander who participates on the site founded by a rainbow of humanity ranging from former Clinton hacks to former Bush hacks has drafted a "Ford Pledge" he wants congressfolk to take in honor of our funniest president.

In honor of Gerald Ford, his decency, and the tremendous sacrifices he made to heal this country at a time of division, I pledge to spend 2007 working towards a similar depolarization – by cooperating with peers from opposing camps, by putting my countrymen's needs before my party's, and by making sacrifices if necessary.

First, who calls people "countrymen"? Besides actors at Colonial Williamsburg?

Second, this is so silly it seems like a prank; something Peter Wood cooked up to get people like us to fall for that New Anger jazz. Because this is nonsense. As Ryan Sager puts it, Bipartisanship is another word for "terrible idea." "Division" produces Tom Coburn's fights against earmarks, Russ Feingold's counterattacks against the PATRIOT Act, Jim DeMint's last-man-standing support for Social Security reform, and Ted Kennedy's bill to force a debate about the Iraq surge. "Depolarization" produces No Child Left Behind, McCain-Feingold, the 2002 Iraq War resolution, and Medicare Part D. "Depolarization" should not be the goal of a political system populated by grown-ups.

NEXT: "I will show the world that I can be its master! I will perfect my own race of people. A race of Saddam Husseins which will conquer the world! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!"

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  1. First, who calls people “countrymen”?

    I do. Rolls off the tongue better than “fellow citizens” and sounds less pompous than “compatriots.”

  2. When it comes to Congressional acrimony, I sometimes think the American public is like an abused little kid yelling “Mommy! Daddy! STOP FIGHTING!! WAAAAAAAA!!”

    We are so conditioned to be a collective infant that somehow idiots yelling at each other on Captial Hill is considered some kind of “threat”, instead of the amusing freak show that it is.

  3. “Gerald Ford, his decency, and the tremendous sacrifices”

    SACRIFICES!? WADR, wasn’t Gerald Ford the #1 ranked recipient of federal pension money?

  4. “Countrymen” beats “The American People” too (as if The American Dogs or The American Fish were deciding elections).

  5. What happened to the platitude about the importance of diversity? Does this only extend to skin color and not political opinions? Shouldn’t the sign of a healthy democracy be a divided government open to healthy debate amongst multiple points of view? Isn’t total unquestioning unity more a sign of a fascist regime?

    And even aside from the stupidity of promoting unity above all other virtues, what if I decide that what I think my countrymen need most is more freedom and a return to a constitutional republican form of government that promotes and protects the right of each citizen to life, liberty and the pursuit of their happiness? Somehow, I don’t think the conservatives or liberals would be very willing to join hands and sing kumbaya with me.

  6. “Depolarization” (read: “Moderates”) produce No Child Left Behind, McCain-Feingold, the 2002 Iraq War resolution, and Medicare Part D.

    Has meeting in the moderate/depolarized middle ever resulted in smaller government or more liberty?

  7. Bi Partisianship in reality just means I give you all the stupid crap you want in return for you giving me the same. RC Dean is right, it rarely results in anything positive.

    More importantly, “bi-partisianship” like “get out the vote” is in itself a pretty meaningless term. Bi-partisianship about what? Further, how do you get bi partisianship without some partisianship to start with. For example, if you were calling for welfare reform in the 1980s, you were considered a Reagan Republican hack who wanted to throw desparate starving masses out onto the street. Welfare reform only become bipartisian after years of partisian campaigning and arguing finally convinced enough people to give it a try. If you are only committed to bipartisianship as an end in itself, nothing ever changes, which of course goes a long way to explaining why entrenched Washington elites are always yapping about bipartisianship.

  8. Aresen:

    Methinks the “sacrifice” was Ford trading in his political future by pardoning Nixon, though I think he was pretty much “Fuck this, I’m out of here. Let Chickenshit Jimmy handle things.”

  9. “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.”

    Marcvs Antonius

  10. It’s still unclear to me as to why bipartisan ideas are necessarily “terrible” ones. Then again, around here any idea related to government is terrible by definition.

  11. “It’s still unclear to me as to why bipartisan ideas are necessarily “terrible” ones.”

    They are not. The point is that it is the idea that matters not the fact that it is bipartisian.

  12. around here any idea related to government is terrible by definition.

    Pretty much. Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?

  13. They are not. The point is that it is the idea that matters not the fact that it is bipartisian.

    Right, but when evaluating the worth of an idea (in the context of Congress) it’s often helpful to know if it’s only favored by one party.

  14. Well buck, you answered your question. If you are of the mind that government constantly needs to move on to a new project, or just ‘needs to get stuff done’, (liberty be damned) then bipartisanship is how that happens. You are on a libertarian forum where, at most, folks are going to view the business of government as simple maintenance of current institutions. Not expansion, or creation of new ones.

    I guess you have a couple of choices if you want to hang around. You can continue with the very lame smart ass routine and troll under your latest less than clever nom de guerre, or you can lay out arguments for your pet bipartisan legislation and see if you can hack it here. joe does it every day, and makes a decent show of it given he is sorely outnumbered. I’m guessing the former, and we’ll just see more of Libby or Arnie.

  15. This reminds me of something Lewis Black said. I’m paraphrasing here…

    The Democrats are the party of no ideas, and the Republicans are the party of really BAD ideas. On Capitol Hill, a Republican will come up and say, “I’ve got a really bad idea!” Then the Democrat will say, “And I know how to make it even shittier!”

    This very well sums up my feelings on bipartisanship.

  16. Right, but when evaluating the worth of an idea (in the context of Congress) it’s often helpful to know if it’s only favored by one party.

    My point exactly. If its only favored by one party, then there’s a chance that its goring someone’s ox. If both parties like it, its because they’ve landed on a policy that hoses the general public, and not their protected constituencies.

  17. its because they’ve landed on a policy that hoses the general public

    If I correctly understand the short bit of a house session I caught last night, the house has voted to extend collective bargaining rights to TSA employees.

  18. pigwiggle: this alone justifies the Democratic Congress. Now all we have to do is convince them to go out on strike and we will have landed a mighty blow for liberty.

  19. RC Dean: If its only favored by one party, then there’s a chance that its goring someone’s ox. If both parties like it, its because they’ve landed on a policy that hoses the general public, and not their protected constituencies.

    I’m confused. So if Republicans favor a policy, there’s a chance that it’s not good for Democrat supporters. And vice versa. OK so far.

    But if both sides favour a policy, then it must be because it is bad for neither side’s supporters, but for the “general public”, who are apparently different from Republican supporters (roughly 49% of the population) and Democrat supporters (another rough 49%). Therefore we conclude that “the general public” represents at most 2% of, er, the population.

    This is indeed a strange language you speak, RC Dean. Baffling, but yet oddly beautiful.

  20. But if both sides favour a policy, then it must be because it is bad for neither side’s supporters, but for the “general public”, who are apparently different from Republican supporters (roughly 49% of the population) and Democrat supporters (another rough 49%). Therefore we conclude that “the general public” represents at most 2% of, er, the population.

    My assumption here is that he is referring to substantive supporters (moneyed interest groups) as opposed to partisan voters. We must also remember that most of those eligible to vote, do not. Maybe because they figured out that they get hosed either way.

  21. The usual reason adversaries decide to work together is to face a common enemy. I figure each side fears the other will make too much political gain if they don’t jump on the wagon on certain issues.

  22. Actually, a substantial majority of Democrats voted against the Iraq War authorization.

    Partisanship is good to the extent that it reflects a genuine difference in philosophy. but let’s not pretend this is all the only manifestation of partisanship.

    When Karl Rove told us that liberals wanted to give the 9/11 hijackers “hugs and therapy,” there wasn’t a principled argument within 1000 miles. He was sowing discord for discord’s sake, and the effect of doing so was to encourage people to more effort into venom than practical thought.

  23. “When Karl Rove told us that liberals wanted to give the 9/11 hijackers “hugs and therapy,” there wasn’t a principled argument within 1000 miles. He was sowing discord for discord’s sake, and the effect of doing so was to encourage people to more effort into venom than practical thought.”

    Kind of like when Hillary Clinton talked about the “vast right wing conspiracy” or Bill Clinton blamed the Oklahoma City bombings on right wing talk radio. That is the problem with you Joe, you are incapable of seeing anything wrong with anything Democrats do. It is very telling and typical that you only see partisianship from Republicans. Don’t you understand how much that undercuts your credibility on anything?

  24. There actually was a body of right-wingers conspiring to bring down Bill Clinton. There actually were talk radio hosts making the same arguments as Timothy McVeigh, and talking about violently resisting the federal government. There actually were distinctions in political philosophy there. That doesn’t mean that Clinton was being entirely fair – partisans often exaggerate the degree of real differences.

    There were not, however, liberals seeking to engage Al Qaeda with anything but military and para-military force. There was no distinction in political philosophy on this issue that Rove’s comments refered to that existed outside of Rove’s feverish mind.

  25. Joe/John:

    Both sides clearly exaggerate. The difference is that Clinton’s BS is arguable, whereas Rove’s BS is pure assholery. Right-wing radio, while not responsible for the McVeigh bombings, stoked the same grievances and tapped into the same anti-government anger that inspired McVeigh. There was a lot of right wing anger back then, enough to go around. I think the radio and the bombings were symptoms of the same anger. Still, there is at least some connection, a common thread. Rove saying that lefties want to kiss Al Qaeda is just pure buggery of the truth. No link, whatsoever. Karl Rove, more than anybody, says things for very calculated purposes, i.e., to piss people off (rile them up).

    Shame on you, John, for comparing the world’s best BS’er (Bill Clinton) to George W. Bush’s resident BS’er. Rove may have BS’ed the country for a few years, maybe 4, but Clinton pulled it off for 8 years (and counting). No comparison.

  26. “Has meeting in the moderate/depolarized middle ever resulted in smaller government or more liberty?”

    Of course. One prominent example is religious liberty in jurisdictions that had divided religious sympathies. They couldn’t impose their own on the other, so they compromised by leaving each other alone. Moderate, depolarized, and free.

  27. “you just said the magic words, now look what you did!”

  28. I like divided government, and I am not that a fan of collusion by leaders of the two pro-government parties. But there is a case to be made for arguing differences in a more respectful manner.

    The Iraq War was approved by bipartisan vote – most Dems in the Senate backed it, and a large minority of Democrats in the House. But they did so in a context where the Republican leaders, the White House and the talk show hosts were denouncing opponents of the war as traitors and front men for Bin Laden.

    If the war was a rational policy choice, would it not have been better to argue the merits based on America’s security interests, rather than calling people traitors and relying on a form of intellectual bullying?

    If the new Congress discusses issues in a respectful manner, that is as much bipartisanship as I could stand.

  29. “Right-wing radio, while not responsible for the McVeigh bombings, stoked the same grievances and tapped into the same anti-government anger that inspired McVeigh.”-Lamar

    So anyone who did not like big government at the time was being influenced by the same forces that inspired McVeigh? Where does that put libertarians and Reason during the nineties?

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