Bipartisanship Might Sound Good But it is Really Undemocratic

I don’t watch “Meet the Press” on NBC now that Tim Russert is gone. David Gregory is no Tim Russert. But I happened on the program recently as I idly clicked my TV remote, and I saw David Axelrod’s earnest countenance, so I paused to visit. And what I heard troubled me greatly.

“Just this week in the health committee on — in the Senate, where Senator Dodd has done such a great job in moving healthcare reform along, 82 amendments were accepted from Republican members that I think will strengthen the healthcare bill,” Axelrod was saying. “And that is a positive thing.”

Say what? I don’t see that as a positive thing at all. I don’t want those 82 amendments in the health care bill. If I had wanted Republican legislation I would have voted Republican. I voted for the Democratic Party because I wanted the legislation the Democrats promised. How hard is that to understand?

cartoonAxelrod was, of course, touting the President’s “bipartisan” approach. President Obama is always preaching bipartisanship – for better or for worse, it seems. “Whether we’re Democrats or Republicans, surely there’s got to be some capacity for us to work together,” he says. “We may not agree on everything but at least we can set aside small differences to get things done. People have to break out of some of the ideological rigidity and gridlock that we’ve been carrying around for too long.”

Wow! Does that ever sound good. Sensible. Mature. Pragamatic. Whatever… But that’s just not how a democracy works. In a democracy opposing sides offer their programs to the voters and the voters choose the program they like best.  Then the winning party is supposed to implement that program. In November, American voters chose the Democrats by a wide margin. They have a right to expect Congress to implement a Democratic agenda.

If that agenda proves ineffective, the voters can kick out the Democrats in the next election and give the Republicans a chance to try their ideas. So, why is the President so keen on “bipartisanship”? And why is the Democratic majority in Congress handing the reins over to the Republican minority?

If the Democrats implement a Republican agenda, my vote was wasted. If I had wanted a Republican agenda, I would have voted Republican. The way things are going, I might as well not vote next time.

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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