The buzzword for 2011, at least so far, seems to be bipartisanship, with America’s “reds” and “blues” both promising cooperation and civility. However, history dictates it won’t last.
Responses from Congress and President Obama to the tragic shootings in Tucson, Ariz., earlier this month were commendable. The assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was met with condemnation and sympathy from members on both sides of the aisle.
Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor delayed all house business following the incident, and President Obama urged Congress to unite in response to the event.
At Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Republicans and Democrats will cross the proverbial aisle and sit together, as opposed to past speeches, which have seen the parties sit on opposite sides of the chamber.
Here’s the problem: Republicans and Democrats don’t get along. Never have, and probably never will. The two sides are diametrically opposed on almost every issue. Unfortunately, in our current political climate, bipartisanship is a Utopian myth.
Politicians run for office on a platform of bipartisanship, but it’s a big lie. During his campaign, Obama said he wanted to end partisan bickering in Washington. However, an MSNBC report in February 2008 showed Obama voted with the Democrats more than 90 percent of the time.
Bipartisanship is a sexy word that makes Americans feel all warm and fuzzy inside. We envision our elected officials standing in a circle, holding hands and singing “Kumbaya.”
Bipartisanship makes us feel good in response to tragedies and disasters. After Sept. 11, 2001, United We Stood. Two years later, Divided We Fell. Bipartisanship is a good thing, no doubt, but just don’t get too excited.
There probably will be a moment of silence at the State of the Union, and Speaker of the House John Boehner probably will cry. But when the House Republicans try to de-fund health care shortly thereafter, the love bubble is likely to pop.
Sorry to be cynical, but what fun would politics be if Republicans and Democrats got along anyway? Bill O’ Reilly and Keith Olbermann would be among America’s unemployed, and imagine how many laws Congress could pass if they got along. It’s terrifying. Thank goodness bipartisanship really is just a buzzword.