Monday, January 5, 2009


On the eve of the 111th Congress of the United States, it seemed to be appropriate to comment on the concept of Bipartisanship, a term that has been trumpeted and bandied about for years, and seemingly the Holy Grail of politics for our media.

At one point in my life I assumed that Bipartisanship was an accomplishment that our politicians should strive to realize.  I no longer think that.

Wikipedia defines bipartisanship as: In a two-party system, bipartisan refers to action of a political body in which both of the major political parties are in agreement. Bipartisan is also a code word used by politicians to assure the other major party shares the blame for bad decisions and bad legislation - see also FISA, and the Patriot Act. Bipartisan agreements are used to assure the two major parties remain the only ones to have significant power and control over a system of government.
Here's how I see it....let's suppose that you own a business, would you hire two competitors to work for you with the objective of delivering the highest level of service to your customers in the most cost effective way, if each of the competitors had a completely different philosophy of management; each had a completely different standard of success; and each had a completely different set of suppliers.  Would you require that they work together to accomplish your business objective?  In reality, only one approach can effectively be worked at any given time, and what you really want is for them is to compete with each other to determine the best approach, not a compromise, which as Merriam-Webster defines it, "is a settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions".
Bipartisanship is a compromise.  It should not be the objective of our political parties.  They should be robust competitors, and through fair and honest competition, they should deliver to us significant advantage in governance.  Bi-partisanship delivers to us the status quo, yet the different constituencies of each party have different needs and requirements. The parties have an obligation to work for the ascendancy of the ideas and needs of their members.  There is no way that one size will fit all.  As in our capitalist system of commerce, let there be competition, and let the consumer / voter chose.
As a country and culture, we like the concept of teams, and bipartisanship has a nice embraces 'teaminess'.  But that is a false sense and one that deprives us excellence.  Where we go wrong, is confusing the state of competition for leadership of ideas, with uniting as a country behind the  idea that wins the election.  Once a legitimate decision has been made, we as a nation should support that decision until it has been changed.  That is not bipartisanship, that is a unified nation.
So, here's wishing well to Barack Obama as our new President, and the same to the 111th Congress.  May they both be successful in protecting and managing the assets of our nation, and help us achieve greater things as a society.  The elections are over....let the competition begin!

Now, here's some comments to think about....
"An association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing which has never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy of nations down to a town meeting or a vestry."

"Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer."


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