Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Post-Partisanship Arnie Style?

The San Diego Union Tribune argues in this unsigned editorial that it is an idea whose time has come. Of course, the party that is the focus of this call for "post-partisanship" is not the Democrats, but the GOP with good ’ole Arnie leading the charge to the middle. As the guest of Nancy Reagan at tonight’s GOP 2008 Presidential candidate debate, he plans to inspire the crowd with his mushy middling message.

There is much to criticize in this article and about Arnie’s politics in general--and it would not be hard to do it. The harder thing to do is to consider whether there is anything worthy of serious consideration in this message. I don’t like to admit it, but I think there is.

I think it is certainly true that a great number of people are fed up with the partisan bickering of Republicans and Democrats--both between them and amongst themselves. And, because this is absolutely nothing new, I have a theory about why people seem to think that it is something different. I think it appears to be something different because of the way it is presented in the media. The discord of back-room politics is now front and center on blogs, in the 24 hr. news cycle on TV. Every gaffe a politician makes is subjected to public dissection on talk radio and on the internet and, when he is left for dead, we get to view the autopsy too.

Politics is, and always has been, something of a grueling and dirty business. It may be that a weariness with politics itself is to blame. In the piece by Victor Davis Hanson that I cited below, he makes the case that we absorb ourselves in trivialities like Anna Nicole because they are easier to understand than the difficulties of world affairs. I think that is probably true in domestic politics as well. We have immersed ourselves in the bickering between and amongst Republicans and Democrats because actually understanding and dealing with issues of constitutional import is too difficult. It is much easier to get into the fight between Harry Reid and the President--until, at last, like Anna Nicole--it makes us want to throw up.

Discussions - 7 Comments

Bipartisanship is a fraud unless the two parties are equally strong, equally aggressive, and equally willing to compromise. Nationally and at the state level in California, none of these conditions holds. In all these categories -- political strength, political aggressiveness, and unwillingness to compromise -- the Democrats are far ahead of the Republicans. Therefore, bipartisanship is unilateral disarmament by Republicans and a mugging of Republicans by Democrats.
We need to deal with reality, not wish it away.

And, since parties are not going away, "post-partisanship" is simply another term for bipartisanship.

Yes, David. I agree with you and everything you say goes almost without saying. I did not mean to imply that I thought Republicans should listen to this tripe trot out by squishy moderates and their willing accomplices among the Dems and in the media. Not at all! I only meant that the perception of today's partisanship as something shocking and unprecedented is really and truly felt--whether justly or not. If that perception takes away votes, then it must be addressed. If we don't address it, then the Arnies of this world will continue to make political hay with it and will continue to be more persuasive until squishdom is the fate of the GOP in entirety. Some wags will say that is already our fate--but they don't consider that the perception in the public is exactly the opposite. Without serious attention to public opinion we are doomed.

Glad you agree, but it hardly "goes almost without saying." It's rarely said, and most of our Republican leaders act as if the dangers of bipartisanship are the farthest things from their minds.

Yea, I wish "President New-Tone" would have figured this out in his first term. Learning it as a lame-duck is a bit late (although one hopes he's beginning to like the heft of that veto pen).

The Republicans talk a much more conservative game than they actually play. This seems to result in the worst of all worlds. The moderate and independent voters who don't follow all the details get the idea it is much more right wing than it is, while the conservative voters who do follow the ins and outs get frustrated by the disconnect between talk and action.

There is danger in Republicans moving closer to the center. The closer they get to the left, the further they get from their base. The GOP desires for a resurgence of conservatism...3/4 of Republicans still support the President. In tonight's debate, the candidates will walk a thin line by appearing more moderate. They will do better to follow the example of Reagan.

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