Ever hear anyone moaning about "bipartisanship" when Trump pushed through his border wall? No? What about his extremist, unqualified, neo-fascist judges? What about his tax cuts for the richest Americans? He didn't do much, but none of what he did do was particularly "bipartisan," except that the Democrats allowed it to be rammed up their asses. But that isn't what "bipartisanship" means, at least not as far as I'm concerned. Bipartisanship means, as I learned from pre-congressional state legislators like Ted Lieu and Pramila Jayapal, finding common ground based on being helpful to your constituents and their constituents. It's a skill that has been replaced by Blue Dogs and New Dems called "caving." Let me repeat a definition of bipartisanship I got from Alan Grayson, who for a couple of years passed more legislation than any other member of Congress, every bit of it bipartisan and every bit of it in the service of his constituents:
'Bipartisanism,' these days, is often a sort of these-are-not-the-droids-you’re-looking-for mind-control game that the Right deploys against the Left to try to diffuse any effort toward real change. Notice how Fox News became a big proponent of 'bipartisanship,' only after Democrats took over the House, the Senate, and the White House. And look at the so-called 'Problem Solvers Caucus'-- which has never actually solved any problems, and never will-- except for the problem of what you can possibly say to voters, when you’ve accomplished nothing, and you never will.
There is, though, a real bipartisanship that only a tiny number of legislators actually practice, and 'by their fruits ye shall know them.' (Matthew 7:16.) Or not know them; there are legislators who haven’t passed a law in 20 years; their time in office has been literally fruitless. And then others like me, who passed a law, through the GOP-controlled House, every couple of weeks, for years and years. My secret was to find others on the other side, people like Chairmen Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Jeff Miller (R-FL), who actually would decide things on the merits. If they thought that I was right, they would provide bipartisan support for my laws; if they thought I was wrong, they wouldn’t. All I had to do was to stay in my office until 11 pm on many nights, writing up those bills and then getting to them before the vote.
For most Congressdwellers, 'bipartisanship' means Democrats and Republicans both sharing surf-and-turf with corporate lobbyists, dividing the martinis equally. But a small group of us really were 'bipartisan'-- the ones who actually gave a damn, who understood that the awesome power to make the laws that we all live by means nothing, unless you use it make people’s lives better.
Now that Biden is trying to pass a $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill-- already whittled down horribly-- you get Republicans whining about how he's not being "bipartisan." Remember, to a Republican "bipartisan" always means giving in to their insane ideological demands. Even this guy:
In his interesting interview with Politico yesterday, Biden chief of staff Ron Klain explained how he isn't interested in bipartisanship as a goal unto itself. He wants to accomplish things but signaled that giving in to crazy demands isn't going to be part of the equation. The early morning "Playbook" team wrote "On attracting Republican votes for the infrastructure bill, Klain’s rhetoric sounded similar to how the administration discussed the Covid relief bill: 'Let’s work together and see if there’s a way for us to deliver this. In the end, let me be clear, the president was elected to do a job. And part of that job is to get this country ready to win the future. That’s what he’s going to do. We know it has bipartisan support in the country. And so we’re going to try our best to get bipartisan support here in Washington.'"
Ryan Lizza followed up with a question about reconciliation, which is obviously the only way the White House is going to get around the solid wall of the GOP-version of bipartisanship: the filibuster. Lizza: "What’s the argument for not using budget reconciliation?" He wrote that Klain responded by making "it clear Dems shouldn’t jump there just yet, but the White House doesn’t care about the process that’s ultimately used: 'What we want to do is get this passed. And I think that starts with a conversation with a broad array of members in both parties to see where the support is, how this looks as we move it through the process. That’s our first goal. And I’m not going to get into legislative tactics today.'"
No one asked Klain about how to deal with bipartisanship on Marjorie Taylor Greene's newest bills, the Fire Fauci Act-- which would cut Fauci's salary to zero-- and the We Will Not Comply Act-- which would ban vaccine passports. I hope Pelosi allows both bills to come to a vote so all the crackpots get to show themselves publicly.