Beyond bipartisanship

Senator McCain’s push for a return to bipartisanship, during the health care debate, honors him. That some senators (Democrats and Republicans) are echoing this push is encouraging and should be (cautiously) applauded. Re-establishing bipartisanship in the Senate would be an extremely positive step towards a functional government.

But bipartisanship alone may no longer suffice: The dysfunction of our government reflects a deep and bitter divide in our society. And the cause for the divisions might be precisely our binary choice between two parties that (while constituting increasingly distinct choices) no longer represent the nuances of our differences or the power of our commonalities. Rather than building robust visions of government, each party has too often chosen to attack and isolate the other. While perhaps electorally effective, radicalizing the “red” versus “blue” mentality preempts legislative solutions sustainable beyond election cycles, and pits sibling against sibling and neighbor against neighbor across our nation.

Broadening our electoral options might de-escalate societal stresses, innovate political dialogue, and foster consensus on the economy, health care, environment and other critical issues. Short (or perhaps as a precursor) of a multi-party system, a critical mass of principled and compelling independent candidates for Congress would move us towards broader and better choices and to a healed nation.

— Antonio Baptista

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