Why Should Bills Be Bipartisan?

September 18, 2009

Someone please explain this to me. If the Republicans in Congress can successfully manage to maintain enough discipline in their own ranks so that none of them or at most one or two of them vote in favor of a healthcare bill sponsored by Democrats, why should this be considered a poor reflection on the bill itself? The Republicans are clearly aiming to block any healthcare bill. They have be unwilling to compromise, and have offered no demands that could possibly lead to a compromise. In fact, they have demonized healthcare reform itself as a form of “socialism” and have demonized Obama personally. Most importantly, they see opposition to any healthcare reform bill as a means of destroying Obama’s presidency (or at least severely weakening it). Their opposition is not primarily based on policy differences, but rather partisan considerations. Given this, how on Earth could their opposition reflect poorly on an individual bill? If you want to buy a car and I say I will oppose you buying any car at all and then go about impugning car ownership in general, how could my opposition to your car purchase reflect in any way the model you buy or its color?
More importantly, who gives a shit if the Republicans support it or not? Why is bipartisanship a good thing? The American voters put Obama in the White House by an enormous margin and gave the Democrats overwhelming majorities in Congress. Obama campaigned on healthcare reform. Public opinion supports healthcare reform. Assuming we still live in a democracy in which majorities decide such things, and we had a contested election in which one side emerged as a clear victor supporting a particular set of policies, should the victors not then seek to implement those policies? Is it not to be expected that the opposition, who campaigned against those policies, would seek to block them?
The Republicans lost in 2006 and 2008. Losing elections does not give you power. Winning elections does. If the Republicans want to have a say on healthcare, they should go win an election.


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