With all the vitriol bantered about these days between extremists from both major political parties, “bipartisanship” has become a sign of weakness to some politicians, pundits and …
With all the vitriol bantered about these days between extremists from both major political parties, “bipartisanship” has become a sign of weakness to some politicians, pundits and voters.
The word itself seems to conjure images of RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) and “Centrists,” a label often placed on moderate Democrats who vote pragmatically. They used to be called “Blue Dogs,” but that term has fallen out of favor on the far-left side of the political aisle.
On the right, Republicans at every level of government often invoke Ronald Reagan as the gold standard in conservative presidential politics.
Toward the final years of the Cold War, the Great Communicator took a hard stance on stopping the “Evil Empire,” then known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Simultaneously, Reagan developed a solid rapport with Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, the liberal Massachusetts Democrat and speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives throughout Reagan’s presidency. Publicly, the two politicos frequently minced words. Professionally, they recognized without one another’s support nothing would get accomplished — domestically or across the world stage.
Republican politicians like to compare themselves to Reagan when it comes to standing tall, tough and resolute. When it comes to compromise, however, we rarely hear about the Reagan administration’s propensity to spend money.
In fact, the U.S. federal deficit rose an estimated 142% during Reagan’s eight years as president — from $253 billion under Jimmy Carter to $1.4 trillion after Reagan left the Oval Office, according to figures provided by The Balance.
It may come as a shock to some, but many Republican politicians like to spend tax dollars.
Historically, some conservatives were known to compromise with liberals when it came to passing bipartisan legislation. Surprisingly, more bipartisan-sponsored bills were passed during the 115th Congress (2018) under President Donald J. Trump than during the 113th Congress under his predecessor in 2014. According to data compiled by Quorum, 68% of enacted bills with bipartisan support were passed in the final year of Trump’s administration, compared to 55% under Barack Obama in 2014.
Closer to home, Wyoming state Republican lawmakers are splitting hairs over who’s a genuine conservative and who isn’t. A kind of litmus test to identify and weed out RINOs is gaining support among hardline, “far-right” Republicans, who want to toss out anyone who doesn’t think bipartisanship is a vulgar word. If they succeed, the end result will hurt the state’s GOP — if California is a good indicator.
Once home to GOP governors George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, more California voters are registered as independents (or non-party affiliated) today than Republican, making the GOP the third most prominent party in the Golden State.
In a recent letter to the editor of the Powell Tribune, retired Wyoming Sen. Alan K. Simpson pointed out the “disturbing” nature of party “purity” tests in the Cowboy State.
“Wyoming has always been ahead of every other state in the country,” Simpson wrote, “because Democrats and Republicans have always worked on legislation together, made compromises, and made things work for the good of Wyoming and its citizens.”
Simpson, once a darling of the Republican Party, has come under recent attack as being too moderate by today’s standards. This is astonishing to some observers, who recall when Simpson was among President Reagan’s most reliable supporters.
Some of the same people who compare Trump favorably to Reagan are now calling Simpson and other infamous Wyoming conservatives “RINOs.”
Granted, Simpson supported bipartisan politics, as evidenced by his friendship with Norman Y. Mineta, a Democrat. As a boy, the U.S.-born California congressman was incarcerated at the Japanese American confinement site, Heart Mountain, in Wyoming. Simpson and Mineta were lifelong friends. They reportedly met in Boy Scouts and often set aside their differences as adults to pass federal legislation in the best interests of all Americans.
With so many issues facing voters from every U.S. party, it’s time for federal, state and local lawmakers to mirror the actions of Simpson and Mineta. It’s time for politicians at every end of the political spectrum — and all points in between — to cross the aisle and get something done.
American lives — and livelihoods — are at stake. Rising inflation, roads and highways full of potholes, unsafe bridges and aging railroad tracks, insane gasoline prices, grocery costs going through the roof, water shortages, rising property tax rates and complex maritime laws that stymie supply chains are a few of the problems U.S. voters face today.
These are not “conservative” or “liberal” problems. They are American problems.
It’s time for Republicans, and Democrats, to work together on bipartisan legislation that solves problems instead of passing the buck to future generations.
It’s time to stop calling politicians names and start counting their votes on legislation that fixes the United States of America instead of dividing it.