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Establishment Democrats and their Obsession with ‘Bipartisanship’

As some of you might know- I am not a big fan of Christmas, and the holiday season in general, for a number of reasons. Firstly, I find this whole thing to be highly disingenuous given that it is clearly a consumerist holiday which pretends to be about something “higher”. Other holidays such as Halloween are far more honest about what they are, namely crass consumerism and drunk girls dressed like whores. Secondly, I detest any holiday which requires stores and restaurants to be closed for even a single day of the week. What is the whole point of a celebration if you cannot get a nice lunch or dinner at the restaurant of your choice?

Also, most public places seem to be filled with too many screaming kids during the holiday season. Then there is the issue of office buildings being subject to yet another round of poorly thought “upgrades” and “repairs” during this season. All in all, this is why I have not written posts on any profound topics within the last couple of days. And today will be no different, as this post is about a fairly mediocre topic that I had considered writing about a couple of times in the last few years. I decided to finally write about it because of the supposed opposition by establishment democrats to the blatant corporate giveaway aka the Republican Tax Reforms of 2017.

Some of you might say- “but, isn’t it good that establishment democrats were finally united in their opposition to this corporate giveaway by the republicans?” Well.. that is a superficial way of seeing things. A little digging under the surface reveals that more than a few democrats opposed corporate giveaways for reasons other than it being a bad idea. Rather, they seemed to be more upset that the bill passed today did not care about their input. In other words, more than a few establishment democrats would have been perfectly happy with supporting a similar corporate giveaway as long it was not that obvious and blatant. And this brings me to why establishment democrats are so obsessed with ‘bipartisanship’ for the passage of major legislation.

Conventional “wisdom”, aka bullshit spewed by paid shills in the mass media, suggests that establishment democrats care about ‘bipartisanship’ because they are “good and decent” human beings who care about maintaining the “civility” of discourse, due “process” and “dignity” of institutions. But is that really the case? Establishment democrats had no problem passing multiple rounds of corporate deregulation in 1980s and 1990s, welfare “reform” in the 1990s, opposing single payer healthcare in 1990s and 2000s, cheerleading for many “free trade” treaties and agreements, supporting the endless losing war on “terror” since 2001 and voting for any defense budget regardless of cost.

In other words, establishment democrats have been consistent and enthusiastic supporters of policies and institutions which immiserate the bulk of their voters. But what does this have to do with their obsession with ‘bipartisanship’? Well.. think about all the legislation and policies which the democrats did not pass because it supposedly lacked “bipartisan” support. Do you see a common theme running through such legislation and policies? In case you did not, establishment democrats most often talk about ‘bipartisanship’ as an excuse to not pass legislation or policies which would benefit the majority of their voters. A smaller, but still significant, percentage of ‘bipartisanship’ talk is also used to justify their support for pro-corporate legislation and policies.

But why is that so? Why do establishment democrats pretend to care so much about maintaining “bipartisanship”? What do they get from attempting to keeping up that charade? Who are they trying to deceive? The answers to this question start become obvious once you start looking the how the two main political parties in USA are funded. To make a long story short, there is almost complete overlap between the list of major financial contributors to both the republican and democratic party. While there a few standout exceptions, it is fair to say that both parties and their elected representatives are beholden to corporate and non-corporate financial backers who also provide cushy post-political jobs to legislators who further their interests.

While this explains why democrats are so willing to work with republicans on legislation and policies that screw over almost everybody else who voted for them, how does it explain them invoking ‘bipartisanship’ far more often than republicans? To understand that, we have to consider another factor- namely, the profile of those who vote for each party. Since the passage of civil-right regulations by democrats in the mid-1960s, they have not been able to win the majority of white voters in almost every national election and most regional ones. Now, we can spend thousands of words trying to explain the stupidity of many classes of white voters voting for republicans- but that is not the focus of this post. Instead, let us focus on who votes for democrats, especially establishment democrats.

To make a long story short, establishment democrats get most of their votes from the following constituencies: non-whites, poorer whites especially women, younger whites, whites with professional degrees and university education- especially women and truly well-off whites. As you might have noticed, the bulk of their voting constituencies stand to benefit from progressive legislation such as raising the minimum wage, single payer government healthcare, inexpensive tax-funded higher education, rules against corporate monopolies etc. Establishment democrats therefore have to at least put up a facade of being devoted to the causes of the so-called 99%. But how can they put up that facade and then weasel away from those promises- one election after the other?

This is where the concept of “bipartisanship” becomes so central for establishment democrats. They can use that concept, again and again, to explain to their voter-base why they are incapable of passing legislation which would improve their lives. Increase in minimum wage.. sorry, we could not reach a bipartisan agreement on it, Medicare for all.. sorry, there was not bipartisan support for that idea, taxpayer funded university education.. sorry, there was too much opposition from republicans and so on. On the other hand, they can still participate in republican initiated gutting of the social safety net, repealing regulations and rules that hinder corporate excess and pretty much anything demanded by their corporate backers- because they are “common sense reforms” and the results of “bipartisanship”.

Readers might have noticed that this particular scam by the democratic establishment is not working as well as it used to, especially after 2008. A significant percentage of their voter-base now sees through this bullshit and has stopped voting in elections or switched their vote in protest. That is why the democratic party lost so many state level seats, governorships, house, senate and presidency since their last high-point in 2008. That is why a Jewish guy in his mid-70s came so close to beating the anointed democratic candidate of the establishment in 2016 democratic primaries. A similar process among the republican voterbase is key to understanding why Trump won the republican primaries and then the presidency in the 2016 elections.

So let us call ‘bipartisanship’ by its real name- collusion against the interests of the majority of their respective voterbases.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. Dick
    December 21, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    I wish you a merry Xmas, too.

  2. Yusef
    December 22, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    I think you are right and here is one of the greatest examples in recent memory, still cited in the MSM as exemplary:

    Reagan and O’Neill: Each needs the other.


    “Bipartisan cooperation” but how was it Reagan always got what he wanted and O’Neill always bent over? (Except what Reagan and O’Neill wanted, out of the sight of the public, was pretty close to the same thing.)

    • hoipolloi
      December 22, 2017 at 2:51 pm

      “Except what Reagan and O’Neill wanted, out of the sight of the public, was pretty close to the same thing”

      Well said. The operating words are – out of the sight of the public.

  3. hoipolloi
    December 22, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    @AD: “So let us call ‘bipartisanship’ by its real name- collusion against the interests of the majority of their respective voter bases.”

    This phenomenon between Republicans and Democrats is well known and talked about in Washington for a long time. The sheeple don’t recognize it and often vote against their own interest. This can be seen clearly in current Indian politics as it is said NDA is team B of UPA.

  4. MikeCA
    December 22, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    I don’t buy this argument.

    Because of the filibuster it is very difficult to do anything in Congress that is not bipartisan. Unless your party has 60 votes in the Senate, then most things have to be done on a bipartisan basis. The one time Democrats had 60 votes in the Senate, they decided to use that filibuster proof margin to pass health care. Democrats tried hard to make that bipartisan anyway, adopting a plan from the Heritage Foundation that Mitt Romney had implemented in Massachusetts. Republicans decided they had to adopt a scorched earth police and oppose everything that Democrats proposed, no matter what.

    Republicans attacked ObamaCare because it was passed using only Democratic votes. This did not stop them from trying to repeal it using only Republican votes.

    While both the Republican and Democratic party have become more partisan, this is clearly not systematical. Democrats tried to get some Republicans support for ObamaCare, even though they had 60 votes in the Senate. Republican made no real effort to get Democratic support for their repeal and replace effort. They drafted the proposals in secret and excluded Democrats from the process.

    • Yusef
      December 23, 2017 at 5:21 pm

      “Unless your party has 60 votes in the Senate, then most things have to be done on a bipartisan basis. The one time Democrats had 60 votes in the Senate, they decided to use that filibuster proof margin to pass health care.”

      Yeah, they used it to pass health care, but as the rest of your comment shows, using it to pass health care is not the best example of something not bipartisan.

      I mean, come on. If the Democrats were truly differentiated politically from the Republicans they could have used their filibuster-proof 60 (plus one, wasn’t it?) to do ALL of the things the Democrats have long claimed to their constituencies they wanted to do– in other words, dozens of progressive measures would have been passed. Dozens. They could have altered the course of history, with “change you can believe in.” Nothing much changed, though.

      What I think you’ve given with your mention of what happened when the Democrats had the filibuster-proof 60 is about the best proof AD’s argument has enormous merit…And yours doesn’t hold.

      • MikeCA
        December 26, 2017 at 1:22 pm

        Democrats did do other things than health care. They did pass a one trillion dollar stimulus package that helped lift the country out of the economic mess left by the collapse of the credit markets. There was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help women with pay discrimination claims. The other big piece of legislation was the Dodd-Frank act to try to put rules in place to prevent another collapse like 2008. In my opinion Dodd-Frank was a step in the right direction, but did not go far enough. Trump and Republicans are doing all the can to undo Dodd-Frank so Wall Street can party like it is 2006 again. I expect his will eventually bring on another economic crisis that will require massive government Wall Street bail outs.

        Democrats did health care through regular order. They held extensive hearings in both House and Senate, drafted bills, amended them in committees, brought them to the floor passed them and then reconciled the two bills. All a long the way they were trying to get Republicans into the process. Susan Collins voted for the bill in committee, but she was persuaded to vote against it on the floor. It took more than a year to pass the health care bill because it was done in an open process using regular order and inviting bipartisan input.

  5. December 22, 2017 at 8:21 pm
    • Don Vaan
      December 24, 2017 at 4:19 pm

      Vox is a narrative aggregator. How could it ever be interesting?

  1. March 27, 2019 at 5:49 pm
  2. August 31, 2019 at 10:10 pm

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