Most Americans continue to call for bipartisanship in the US Congress. But it has become as elusive as UFOs, Bigfoot, and the mythical unicorn. First, let’s note that the “bi” in bipartisanship denotes the participation of two parties. Unfortunately, for at least the past 12 years, one party has been largely absent. Sure, the Republicans have been more than happy to demand a voice in any bill the Democrats put forward. For example, as Congress was debating the Affordable Care Act, Republicans offered hundreds of amendments to the bill, and Democrats accepted hundreds of them in hopes of gaining Republican support. But, when it came to the final vote, not a single Republican voted for the bill in the House or the Senate.
That set a pattern that continues to this day.
Senate GQP (Grand QAnon Party) leader, Moscow Mitch McConnell has stated repeatedly that his primary goal is to stop the Democratic agenda at any cost. When Republicans are in the minority, he repeatedly calls for bipartisanship. But when Democrats have control, he ramrods through Republican bills and nominations at record speeds, decrying any attempts at negotiation as obstruction. One need look no further than McConnell’s actions on the Senate Supreme Court confirmations of Merrick Garland and Amy Coney-Barrett to confirm his hypocrisy and his contempt for bipartisanship.
As if those two examples are not enough to make the point, consider the recent votes on a bill calling for a bipartisan commission to investigate the insurrection of January 6. After Democrats agreed to each of the House Republican’s demands, both parties announced that they had reached a deal on May 14, 2021. Then, on May 18, the day before the bill was to come up for a vote, House GQP leader Kevin McCarthy announced his opposition to the bill. And hours before the House vote, Moscow Mitch followed suit. As a result, only 35 Republican House members broke ranks to vote in favor of creating the commission.
The fate of the commission now hangs in the balance in the Senate where, given the filibuster, 10 Republicans will have to demonstrate their independence from Moscow Mitch and vote for bipartisanship. Unfortunately, that is very unlikely.
One can’t help but compare the GQP to Lucy in the Peanuts cartoon series and Democrats to Charlie Brown. Despite assurances that they will hold the football this time, the GQP continues to withdraw support at the last instant, leaving Democrats to whiff and fall onto their backsides. Though contrary to their instincts and their desire for the kind of bipartisanship needed to solve our nation’s problems, it’s time for Democrats to give Republicans a dose of their own medicine.
Bipartisanship is not possible now that one of the parties has become a belligerent and autocratic cult.