Saturday, April 14, 2012

Critique of Equivalence Theory of U.S. Partisanship

So, I am an open partisan. I'm a lefty, so I cannot be certain that my perspective is fair.

That said, the false equivalence drawn between Republican partisanship and Democratic partisanship is annoying.

I offer three examples to illustrate my point: 2 of Republican intransigence, and 1 of Democratic willingness to deal.

First, Republicans were in favor of Health Care Reform before they were against it. The individual mandate was originally developed by Republicans. Bob Bennet, with possibly the most conservative voting record in the Senate, proposed the Healthy Americans Act, which was substantially the same as the PPAC. So it was really weird when Repubs unanimously opposed Obama's plan, because they supported it before. Obama and the Dems responded graciously to Republican animosity by giving tons of concessions on their Health Care Plan. This bipartisan gesture to the Repubs was ignored. When the PPACA comes up to a vote, only one Repub (in the entire Congress) breaks ranks to vote for the plan that they originally proposed.

Second, in a gesture of political hostility and brinkmanship, the Republicans, as a unified whole, refuse to raise the debt ceiling. This almost brings the nations finances crashing to a halt. Dems finally cave, so as to not plunge the nation into economic crisis, and sign some fairly ugly spending cuts into law. As a result of this stupid gesture of intransigence on the part of Repubs, the rating agency Standard & Poors downgrades the U.S. credit rating, for the first time in history, citing "political brinkmanship" as the problem. Repubs are willing to hold the nation hostage to get what they want. Dems have not yet resorted to such extreme, coercive methods.

Third, despite the hostility and unwillingness to play fair on the part of Repubs, Dems are still willing to help the "Just Say No Republicans" pass legislation for the good of the country. Recently, Obama and the Dems got behind a Republican proposal to make it easier for small businesses to obtain financing and investment. Dems are still willing to listen to Republican ideas.

Finally, political scientists can actually chart the Republicans swift shift to the hard right. This same study shows that Dems haven't moved very much, or at least their not doing so at a rate nearly as fast as Republicans. Therefore, the empirical evidence suggests that the gridlock in Congress is a Republican shift, not a Democratic one.

I know there are some ideologues among the Dems too. But as a rule, the Dems have demonstrated more willingness to listen and compromise than have the Repubs.