I don't know how these Beltway fantasies get started. No, you don't need bipartisanship to get things done. This past Congress has seen almost no bipartisanship, and yet it's probably been one of the most productive since LBJ was in the White House. Sure, Republicans could have aided bipartisanship by voting for more of Obama's agenda, but why would they want to do that? That's certainly not what they got elected to do.
Masket only hints at this, but there seems to be a real anti-democratic undertone to the Beltway fantasy of perpetual bipartisanship. Think about it: In the bipartisan fantasy land of Mark Halperin or David Broder, elected officials would ignore their constituents in favor of a "bipartisan agenda" defined entirely by a handful of elite opinion writers. For members of Congress, political loyalty would extend as far as themselves, and you would see a steady disregard for grassroots groups and other outside actors. Politics would have far fewer avenues for citizen participation, and voters would completely tune out, as they could never expect to see their votes reflected in policy.
I might be reading too much into this, but in my mind, the constant Beltway pining for lawmakers who ignore voters and disregard activists reveals a real discomfort with the actual workings of American democracy. It's troubling, to say the least.
-- Jamelle Bouie
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