: of, relating to, or involving members of two parties <a bipartisan commission>; specifically : marked by or involving cooperation, agreement, and compromise between two major political parties
That’s the way all of us were taught the meaning of the word.
Richard Mourdock, who defeated longtime Indiana Senator Richard Lugar by 20 percentage points in the Indiana Republican primary, has a completely different idea. He believes that the two parties working together means the Democrats coming to the Republican side.
It isn’t about old-style, political horsetrading. It isn’t even about listening and considering the other side’s views. It is refusing to budge an iota and forcing the other side to accept all terms as some sort of unconditional surrender. There was a time that politics was known as the art of compromise. Today it is the art of conflict.
In Mourdock’s words, the definition of bipartisanship consists of “Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.”
Anyone, whether he or she be a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green or any party, who thinks that the truth solely rests with a single point of view that all others must embarace is worse than arrogant. That person is a liar as well. No one is 100% right. Anyone who thinks that is not capable of leading.
Compromise is the principle democracy is built upon. It accepts the basic premise that the many are going to make fewer mistakes than the few or the one. Democracy is about all sides putting every effort into getting elected, but then working together in a legislative body by crafting bills with input from others and compromise.
This is the message that the Founding Fathers put forward in the Constitution. That is why there is a First Amendment. It is so all ideas have an opportunity to make it into the center of debate. That is why there are checks and balances in the Constitution. One branch of government cannot be more powerful than the other two. They are all supposed to work together to some extent. That includes the members of those branches as well.
Except for the Civil War and a few other anomalies, this concept has worked remarkably well in the United States. That foundation is now crumbling. It is because of people like Mourdock who are threatening the nature of our democratic society. It isn’t just the right doing this. The left has had plenty advocating the same position. However, today this drive to stake political arrogance through the spirit of American democracy is primarily coming from the right.
Lugar had plenty of things wrong with him, the foremost being that he had been in Washington too long. Yet he would cross the aisle, talk to Democrats and try to find real solutions to real problems without throwing the kind of ideological manure Mourdock is tossing around.
If we don’t get out of this intolerant mess in the next few years, this country is really going to have problems. That will be because all sides will be so polarized that they will refuse to work together to fix anything. Pointing fingers at each will be the only thing they jointly embrace.
Hopefully, Mourdock never sees the inside of the Senate chambers. His kind of thinking needs to be kicked out of Washington.