If Mr. Webster had created a political dictionary the first words on page one would have been “bipartisan.”
It is a form of wishful thinking that all politicians talk about and the voting public loves to hear. At the national level, bipartisanship does occasionally happen these days but it is impossible to get a consensus on anything that is consequential.
It is a fact that Congress was able to agree on legislation dealing with anti-Asian prejudice and there may even be a bill or two that passed with the support of both parties.
President Joe Biden campaigned on a pledge to have bipartisanship, but he was dreaming that it was 20 or 30 years ago when big things happened in Washington and legislation passed with two-party support.
A simple case in point is Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. On the day that President Barack Obama was sworn into office, McConnell pledged that he would dedicate his life to “making President Obama a one-term president.”
A few short weeks ago McConnell stated that he would do “all in his power” to stop President Biden from passing any of his political priorities.
Over in the House of Representatives, a bunch of Republicans attacked Mr. Biden for not being more bipartisan, at the same time that 120 of them voted not to recognize the November election results.
On a daily basis, almost any legislation that moves through the House passes with only Democratic votes.
Is the continued resistance to bipartisanship a new event? Not really. Back in the mid-’90s when Newt Gingrich became Speaker of the House, he told his fellow Republicans that they were not to sponsor any legislation with Democrats and even frowned on members having a drink or dinner with any member of the opposite party.
That event not only poisoned Washington politics but it trickled down to state legislatures all over the country.
The resistance to working together on Capitol Hill is not because there is some legitimate reason that working together is against the law. It is all about the politics of today.
Once upon a time members of Congress worked on passing legislation that would impact on people for the next 10-plus years. Today, everything that happens depends on what will happen in the next 10 minutes.
McConnell and his team aren’t looking at the problems that the average citizen faces today. He is focused on the 2022 election and the possibility of regaining control of both houses. If he works with the Democrats on some bill that helps people, he worries that it will undermine his chance to regain power.
President Biden has presented America with an ambitious program dealing with people’s needs following a year that impacted the lives of millions of Americans. Businesses were destroyed.
Families suffered terrible tragedies. Local governments were saddled with astronomical costs that will take years to recover. Some of these challenges were solved with the passage of a major funding bill without any Republican votes.
But that major legislation did not take care of the national needs that have not been met for the past 25 years. Roads and bridges are in danger of falling down all over America. Children attend schools that are not only antiquated but in danger of falling apart.
Over one-third of Americans do not have access to broadband. Rural hospitals are closing at a rapid rate. The menu of national needs is longer than you can imagine.
The possibility of any of these challenges being met is very remote. The thinking of one group of Republicans is that if any or all of these items are addressed, that will help the other side and endanger a 2022 election win.
To add to this partisan divide, former President Donald Trump threatens any legislator with a primary contest if they help pass anything advocated by President Biden and the Democrats.
Sadly, the thought of bipartisanship is just a dream. They are words in the dictionary but they will not find a home in Washington. Whether those words will ever again become a priority for our badly divided America, is anyone’s guess.