Partisanship vs. Bipartisanship

John Adams once stated in a letter to a colleague that “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.” If the second president could see us now he would probably not believe the political thing that we have become despite his greatest fears.

Though it is certainly true that the application of American politics today cannot be easily separated from partisanship, in their most extreme forms these all-or-nothing approaches to today’s issues may just be the most unprincipled way possible to conduct a nation’s affairs. People simply do not agree 100% of the time with others on all topics so it stands to reason that to toe a party line on all issues is unnatural unless one sacrifices at least some of their principles, or worse – consciously possesses none at all for sake of achieving and advancing the respective Party’s dominion.

Principled individuals are just that – individuals. They analyze, digest, and judge each situation independently as logic and reason demands. No two situations are created equal nor can a bureaucracy or committee answer faithfully for an entire collection of individuals on a given issue unless there is a significant sacrifice – willing or otherwise – of those individuals’ subjective principles. The real fallacy here does not lie in the disagreements that inevitably occur between large portions of the populace in a free society. Most people tend to independently lean toward conservatism or liberalism in a given situation naturally enough. No, the true fallacy lies in the apparently welcomed presumption that a single (or in this case two), template approach approved and disseminated by the Party befits any and all situations before they are even legitimately considered on their own merits. If this approach were truly worthwhile, why have individual candidates listed on the ballots at all? Why not simply vote for the Party and allow its respective leadership to appoint our representatives for us – after all, they all must toe the line the same anyway to fulfill the partisanship model.

But in my honest estimation what is even more erosive to our nation’s well-being today is the manner with which bipartisanship is typically applied. Many people clamor for bipartisanship on all issues but to me this is the fastest path toward the destruction of the citizenry’s freedoms and rights, along with the credibility and justness of our representatives and officials. While Republicans and Democrats will battle viciously to defeat each other throughout the gamut of political issues big and small, nothing unites them in common purpose quite like the prospect of the citizenry seizing or strengthening authority or discretion over their own lives. While idealistically appealing, bipartisanship today is ultimately nothing more than the tool with which the ruling class obtains, maintains, and expands their own power and the means by which who gets what is most efficiently decided. Even absent the very real threat that the people pose to this power base by becoming their own masters, bipartisanship usually comes at the high cost of political corruption and the virtual purchasing of votes. The implications of urging extremely ambitious people from all different walks of life and constituencies to agree on a bill via “sweetheart deals” and special appropriations is clear enough I think.

Judge Andrew Napolitano wrote in 2010 “…we must recognize that we do not have a two-party system in this country; we have one party, the Big Government Party. There is a Republican version that assaults our civil liberties and loves deficits and war, and a Democratic version that assaults our commercial liberties and loves wealth transfers and taxes.” As the lesser of two evils, I would gladly pay the Congress an increased salary to continue their partisan bickering and infighting because so long as they are incapable of reaching common ground they are incapable of corroding our individual rights and liberties. Until we, as a citizenry, take it upon ourselves to become the informed, independent, and self-determinant people that we should be electorally, extreme partisanship is the only roadblock that prevents our complete subjugation by the alternatively cooperative two-party system.


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