Bipartisanship has long been perceived as a virtuous trait, but in today’s acrimonious political climate, capitulation towards the Republican Party should be out of the question because most of their ideas have become so extreme. There is no middle ground when it comes to dealing with climate change. No money should ever go towards a border wall to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. No person should ever be denied healthcare.
Because today’s politics are mostly driven by special interest groups, when Republicans and Democrats work together, the American people are almost always negatively affected in some manner because of it. Bipartisanship brought forth the Patriot Act, Obamacare, Wall Street deregulation, and an extremely bloated military budget needed for the current bombing of seven different countries and maintaining 800 military bases around the world.
The kind of bipartisanship that most people seem to yearn for has recently occurred. Democrats Bernie Sanders, Chris Murphy and Ro Khanna worked with Republican Mike Lee to pass a resolution that would end U.S. support to Saudi Arabia as they continue to bomb innocent Yemeni civilians. The resolution was still mostly split between party lines but, unfortunately, President Trump killed it with a veto.
The country has seen a massive shift over the past few years where the majority of the American people favor the progressive policies that candidates such as Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard, and Elizabeth Warren have been strong advocates for. Well over half the country now supports progressive policies such as Medicare for all, universal education, the Green New Deal, slapping strict regulations on Wall Street and restoring a much higher corporate tax rate. As the presidential race begins to pick up, it is important to pay attention to the language being used by centrist candidates such as Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar.
Klobuchar has recently said that she wants to “bring back bipartisan talks” in regard to healthcare and has tepidly endorsed the Medicare-for-all system. She also called the Green New Deal “fairly radical.” What is radical is the fact that millions of people can not afford health insurance and the sun will cook most life into extinction if carbon emissions are not drastically reduced within the next decade.
The political strategy of the Democratic Party since Bill Clinton took office was to appeal to leftists during a campaign and slowly shift towards the right as Election Day gets closer, with hopes that the move would also appeal to many conservative voters. This triangulation method puts true progressives and those hoping for pragmatic change in a precarious situation. It is almost as if their preferred candidate is saying, “What are you going to do now, vote for the other guy? I’m the closest thing you have for any representation and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. Either vote for me or stay home and run the risk of getting someone who doesn’t represent you at all elected.”
Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown won reelection in Ohio by running a progressive campaign, while Blue Dog Democrat Joe Donnelly lost his reelection bid one state over in Indiana. Bernie Sanders convinced a room full of Trump supporters in West Virginia to support Medicare for all. In just two years, the seminal progressive party named Justice Democrats won seven congressional elections (including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), with no name recognition and without taking corporate PAC money.
Republicans constantly cried foul and complained about a lack of bipartisanship during the Obama years. He made the mistake of placating them, and as a result the country got Obamacare and conservatives got a Supreme Court pick. They complained about executive overreach for every 276 signed executive orders over his eight-year term but have said nothing about Trump signing 102 executive orders in his first two years.
The list of Republican hypocrisy just over the past four years is enough to write an entire book about, and Mitch McConnell has once again changed the rules of the senate in order to rush through conservative judges across the country. There is no middle ground with them, and spineless, centrist Democrats have repeatedly shown that they would rather acquiesce and complain about strident bullies instead of fighting for their constituents. Meanwhile, Republicans accomplished exactly what their donors paid them for.
Centrism is finding a nice compromise between bad and worse; it is a tacit endorsement of the status quo. It is an intellectually lazy stance because it assumes that both ideas hold equal weight and deserve equal time for discussion, dismissing the fact that some ideas are just inherently awful. Compromises at this point will fail to give the American people what they want and need. The language being used by centrist candidates are filled with vacuous platitudes and clichés designed to mask coded language such as “access to healthcare” instead of fully promising that everyone will be insured. Do not fall for these linguistic traps; familiarizing oneself with policy substance is crucial in making sure the county no longer travels down the entropic path it has been on for the past four decades.