Before the ink is even dry on the election newsprint that declared a major victory for Democrats this week, Thomas Friedman, the New York Times liberal poster boy is claiming that now—right now!—is the exact moment the country needs to embrace (wait for it) ‘bi-partisanship’! With the exception of a few annoying facts—like a Democratic sweep of nearly every close toss-up state—the column could be the same he’s used for the last 5 years. It’s rather like the Republicans ‘ideas’ surrounding tax cuts. If the economy is booming cut taxes, it will boom more! If it’s ailing, that’s okay, cut taxes, that will stimulate the economy! It doesn’t really matter what the illness is, the cure is always the same. I had a friend in college who claimed smoking weed held the same magical properties. He eventually dropped out. Thomas Friedman should follow his lead.
Compromise, in particular unilateral compromise (which seems to be a Democratic specialty) with the current crop of far right Republicans is a preposterously bad idea for at least two reasons.
1—Although it might sound pretty (and all the beltway folks clamor for it like heroin) it’s bad politics. Any compromise with folks to the right of Attila the Hun will not be favored by a majority of Americans. How do I know this? We just gave the Democrats another 4 years and expressly denied Republicans that option based on this question. Winning a national mandate doesn’t mean we want to compromise with a bad idea from Republicans we just rejected; that means we want good ideas from Democrats implemented. That’s what election are about. And as some Republican famously said, ‘elections have consequences’.
2—It enables bad behavior. The Republicans are right now in the position of an addict or alcoholic that has finally hit bottom. Ever since Rove famously taunted the ‘reality based’ community, Republicans weaned on the ephemera of Fox News have preserved a kind of alternate universe of facts and ideas. Just as an addict or alcoholic will skid through life until something breaks– the car, the kid, their head—Republican’s alternate universe was shattered on November 6th. There’s probably no better sign of the cognitive dissonance in play than Karl Rove, the Republican’s rain maker, arguing with a Fox News pundit over the reality of losing Ohio. He just didn’t get it. He might never get it, but I suspect quite a few of his colleagues (and donors) have. So Republicans can either kick the habit or go back to their delusional ways. ‘Bi-partisanship’ at this point enables them to continue with the illusion that their ‘ideas’ are actually workable solutions. They are not. Neither politically nor practically. The core Republican idea—maybe the only real domestic idea they have had in the last 12 years–tax cuts for the wealthy– has created a disaster for our budget, a windfall for billionaires, and havoc for the middle and lower classes. Compromising on tax cuts for the wealthy is like being an enabler. As Nancy Reagan so calmly cautioned us years ago, ‘Just say No’.
Finally, even if a ‘compromise’ of some degree is necessary to avoid the artificially created ‘fiscal cliff’, you don’t start negotiating by conceding the need for ‘bi-partisanship’…You start with a firm assertion of what the majority of Americans want: Increase taxes on the wealthy (popular with Mitt Romney voters as well exit polls have shown), preserve cuts for those making less, get out of Afghanistan, safe guard Social Security, create and fund an alternate energy infrastructure that will grow jobs in the US and lessen the impact of man-made climate change, etc. If Republicans have ideas that will make these plans possible, by all means listen to them. But Obama needs to be firm in the referendum that has been delivered by this country. It was quite clear going into the voting booth that there was a fundamental choice between two ideas of governance. Obama and the Democrats represented the idea of the commonwealth, that our government was to be used to further the public good. The Republicans represented a call for limited government and further privatization. They lost—and, more importantly — their core idea of a diminished government in the public sphere lost. Americans want a government that helps them in times of need and emergencies, that protects them in old age, that provides healthcare and retirement benefits. Now, it’s time the party we elected acts like it.
~by Jack Johnson