Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bipartisanship Redux

Again, it's simply not meaningful to compare the preset circumstances to those faced by Lyndon Johnson or Franklin Roosevelt when it comes to bipartisanship. To repeat myself, "providing health care for uninsured children by taxing tobacco, which is the political equivalent of a baby flying a fighter jet while holding puppy wrapped inside an American flag, only got nine Republican votes." Meanwhile the Great Society programs arose at the height of partisan de-polarization, and Roosevelt faced a less oppositional GOP that had been shellacked in the previous two election cycles. Here's a graph from Keith Poole's Polarization talk:

Barack Obama faces partisan polarization not seen since Woodrow Wilson was President. We really need to look at the records of late 19th century Presidents--McKinley, Benjamin Harrison, Chester Aruther, and so on--to see how often they managed to forge bipartisan consensus. Considering that was the era of "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion" politicking, my guess is that consensus wasn't very common.
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