OPINION: Bipartisanship and the Myth of Unity in the US Senate


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Mickey Danza, Managing Editor

Compromise in modern US Senate politics is a myth. The only bills that routinely pass and make their way to the president’s desk are general spending bills, and even then if they don’t kowtow to the wants of GOP senators, even those do not pass. When Republicans have the majority, they use any ounce of power, precedent, and brute force they can muster to maintain their status and act as they please to fulfill the wishes of their corporate backers, and when they do not have power, that is when they pretend to care about the precedent that they themselves have set. Considering not a single senate republican voted yes on multiple direct  COVID relief packages, and they have made it their explicit goal to be obstructionist roadblocks during this pandemic, this is a fair estimation. There is not a single person in the entire country that honestly thinks that a Republican-led government will extend the proverbial olive branch across the aisle and focus on unity over an agenda.

Democrats now control both the Executive and Legislative Branches of government, they successfully defeated an incumbent Republican president, and support for the progressive wing of their party is at an all-time high, but if the Democrats don’t get their asses in gear and pass their inarguably popular policy, they are going to lose that power, and it will be a long time before they get it back. They cannot allow themselves to splinter squabble and chase after the mythical bipartisan compromise they would never be afforded by their competition. 

This has happened before. In 2009 with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Democrats had a popular bill, pushed it through, and got it passed. This bill was already a compromise to the Republicans, it was essentially Romneycare it was not the mythic Medicare-for-all, and still did not include single-payer healthcare and the public option, the bill was not an all-encompassing healthcare package, they did not make it clear to Americans what the bill actually was, and because Democrats are more smitten for appeasement than Neville Chamberlain before World War 2, they allowed Republican senators and members of their party to whittle the bill down until where it now exists, an eroded withered husk of what it was originally intended to be. 

It does appear that Democrats are learning from their mistakes. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has recently said that the Democrats cannot repeat their mistakes of 2009, citing the need for a robust stimulus package and greater economic reforms to try to salvage and potentially rebuild the middle class. These are undeniably good things, however, Democrats are notorious for completely fumbling policy that has near-universal support. This should not matter, if something is popular with the majority of people it should pass, but considering no Republican officials, and a pitiful handful of Democratic ones actually act with their constituent’s needs and health in mind, the likelihood of it ever actually passing is low.  

If Democrats intend to pass any policy, they must start acting the way the Republicans do when they have power. Recently, the Dems have finally actually pushed for a 15 dollar minimum wage, an idea that was considered radical in 2016 and is now incredibly popular with the majority of US citizens. However, the Senate parliamentarian, a job that does not actually hold any power, told them the method they were using couldn’t be done, so instead of using other methods, the Democrats dropped it altogether. This decision has raised eyebrows among many, especially seeing as when under the Bush administration, Robert Dove, the then parliamentarian, disagreed with the Republican agenda, GOP leaders told him to resign. This again serves to highlight the republican party’s false love for precedent. They will be complete mavericks and act as they please when they have power, then swap their charade of precedent for their charade of bipartisanship as they proceed to block and kvetch about every bill that might actually benefit their constituents.