(bi)party time

Jack Shafer runs down the accomplishments of bipartisanship:

Writing slavery into the Constitution was perhaps the greatest triumph of nonpartisan compromise in U.S. history. The denial of suffrage to non-property owners and women ranks up there, as do prohibition, the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII, the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, and the so-called war on drugs, declared by President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s and waged bipartisanly by every president—Republican and Democrat—since.

Moving to the contemporary period, we discover that monument to bipartisan accord: the Patriot Act, which passed the Senate 98-1 and the House 357-66. So unified in pursuing the common interest were legislators that they barely debated the bill, and few read it. The No Child Left Behind Act passed with near unanimity, even though nobody much cares for it today.

Washington’s elected officials sing the song of bipartisanship every time they sit down to negotiate and distribute earmarks to their states and districts. Earmarks serve as both bipartisanship’s grease and its energy supply. All those “petty” partisan political differences fade as Rep. John Murtha wheels and deals for his district and bridges to nowhere get built over every chasm and ditch in the nation.


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