With Democrats about to assume control of the House of Representatives we’re being treated to another round of wide-ranging calls for bipartisanship – both overtly and more insidiously in sub-rosa form.
Democrats are supposed to act in a bipartisan manner — but without expecting either Donald Trump or Mitch McConnell to accept normal House oversight – much less to sit down with them and pass any serious bipartisan legislation.
So the real message to Democrats is that they must not articulate a clear principled policy position of their own — even for the purpose of saving civilization as we know it — because that would only further ‘polarization’ and ‘tribalization’ as argued in the deeply flawed ‘Hidden Tribes’ report I wrote about recently.
The default assumption here is an article of faith among the D.C. punditocracy: Serious policymaking progress requires bipartisan consensus.
In practice this means Democrats always have to compromise – no matter how large an electoral victory they may win.
This assumption wildly misrepresents American history.
The abolition of slavery wasn’t the product of bipartisan consensus nor was anything else that fundamentally reshaped America: building the transcontinental railroad – establishing land grant colleges – imposing an income tax – creating fiat money.
The same could be said of FDR’s New Deal – as well as Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.