What Happened to Bi-Partisanship?

June 5th

On the day of Governor Scott Walker’s recall vote when the left and the right seem increasingly hardened, the question of whether there is a future to bi-partisan cooperation seems particularly appropriate.

On Monday Chris Mathews spoke at President Gerald Ford journalism awards. He talked about Tip O’Neill, for whom he had been Press Secretary, and his friendship with Gerry Ford. Both had loved the House of Representatives and both had loved managing legislation on the Floor where the action was.

Their friendship was one of those bi-partisan institutions that seem rare in today’s light. In his remarks Chris explored the question of what has happened to bi-partisanship – beginning by talking about Washington.

This city without smokestacks, without factories…we only do one thing here…we make deals….

Its called legislation, its called government.

We come to this city with lots of points of view. But somehow, he said, we find a way to reconcile divergent, even opposing, points of view and pass legislation and govern.

Scott Walker has the lead on the morning of the Election.  (The polls show a seven percent lead).  But the savvy political pros report that its going to be very, very close.

What’s interesting is that the closer it gets the more it matters.

In spite of the fact that the decision may be made by a hair’s breadth, the winner – whether anti-union or pro-union – will claim the mandate to make extremely significant economic decisions.

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