If the White House is going to get anything done at any point during
President Obama's tenure, the Republicans and Democrats of Congress will have to get along. This means that at least a few Republican Senators must occasionally join with
Democrats to pass even the simplest legislation. So far, however, a hardline
GOP policy of obstructionism has
made this impossible. Above, a brilliant graphic by Andrew Odewahn
visualizes the widening partisan gap. Is this just a short-term hiccup
or is bipartisanship really, truly dead? And what can we do about it?
- Dems Must Fix Structural Collapse The Atlantic's James Fallows argues it's up to Democrats to draw attention to the problem. "[T]he structural failures of American government are the country's main problem right now," he writes. "If Democrats could find a way to talk about structural issues -- if
everyone can find a way to talk about them -- that would be at least a
step. And the Dems could talk about the simple impossibility of
governing when the opposition is committed to 'No' as a bloc."
- Obama Courts, Pressures GOP The New York Times's Hulse and Zeleny survey the two-prong strategy. "Obama intends to follow through quickly on his State
of the Union proposal for bipartisan White House brainstorming
sessions. Republicans will also be invited to the White House this
weekend to watch the Super Bowl,
as well as to Camp David and other venues for social visits." Obama's
goal is also "forcing Republicans to make substantive compromises or be
obstructionist given their renewed power to block almost all
legislation in the Senate."
- Obama Will Shame GOP Into Action The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder declares bipartisanship dead. "Republicans know that the benefit they're deriving in the short term
far exceeds the criticism they're getting from the political elite." Ambinder suggests shame will be the White House strategy.
Really, the ONLY way for Democrats to get anything
done is to change that balance. The White House will continue to reach
out -- not because they actually believe in the magical bipartisan
fairy, but because they're ready to remonstrate Republicans when the
GOP slams the door in their faces.
Another strategem would be to force the GOP -- old white guys with
sketchy bladders -- to filibuster. Stand up there and filibuster.
Expose the ugliness of what the process is. (Andy Stern of SEIU has
been advising senior congressional leaders to employ this.)
Figure out a way to channel the public's anger -- diffuse as it is --
onto Republicans by exposing their votes against popular majoritarian
items. [The Washington Post's Ezra Klein explains why this is unlikely.]
- High School-Style Clique Wars The Economist says the "self-segregation" is a social, not policy, divide. "The social divide is, of course, most striking because it appears not
to correspond to any reasonable ideological divide; as Mr. Obama told
the Republican senators, the health-care reform that passed the Senate
on party lines is an extremely moderate bill, the most conservative and
private-sector-friendly version of universal health insurance
imaginable. But that doesn't really matter; the clash in the Senate
isn't about policy. It's a war between two cliques."
- End The Filibuster Liberal blogger Digby thinks
that's the only option. "That one supermajority requirement makes it
impossible for our two
party system to function under conditions such as this. Obviously, the
Republicans have no need to eliminate it because they have achieved
this party discipline while the Democrats, also obviously, have not,"
she writes. "Actually getting Republican support is impossible."
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