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May 20, 2024

The Public Discourse: Partisanship - The Voice for Comprehensive Debate

By Sauyma Gurbani | February 19, 2009

The economy is in shambles, schools desperately need reform and 46 million Americans are still without any health insurance. Amidst what seems like imminent disaster, it seems as though the people of the United States are tired of the petty politics that divide this country. We believe that it is now time to call upon our respective Congresspersons to finally reach across party lines and get policies passed. A noble endeavor to be sure. However, blindly engaging in bipartisanship just to get legislation passed is a horrible idea. This isn't to say that I am against bipartisanship in general, just that partisanship is often quite necessary.

The fact of the matter is that if a Congressman has a set of principles on administrative philosophy, he ought not to forego them simply to get legislation pushed through. Congresspersons are elected not only because of their explicit policy views but also because of their party affiliation. Registered Democrats often vote according to their beliefs in principles such as active social participation and government support for those in the lowest of socioeconomic conditions. Registered Republican voters often vote because they believe in the principles of limited government and streamlining efficiency. There is no reason to simply abandon these core principles just for the sake of pushing an agenda through quickly.

Party philosophical differences should be perfectly justifiable reasons to reject a proposal even if that proposal addresses a topic that is in dire need of legislation. This is the case, because even though legislation is needed, it doesn't mean that wrong legislation becomes acceptable. No Democrat should feel obliged to vote for a policy he or she is philosophically opposed to just because the issue demands attention. There was no reason for Democrats to have had to engage in bipartisanship when voting for the No Child Left Behind Act just because education reform needed to be implemented. The Democrats broke from their base philosophy just for the sake of passing a policy on a pressing issue.

We are truly at one of the most pivotal moments in our history. It is prudent for us to understand that even though we desperately need certain legislation, to pass bad policy will be infinitely worse. Our Congresspersons must understand that bipartisanship shouldn't challenge our principles. Bipartisanship shouldn't arise out of desperation. Bipartisanship should only happen when two parties come together in actual agreement with one another on how to better America. After all, the whole reason we have multiple viewpoints in our government is to make sure that bad policies don't get passed and that good ones are actually that - good.

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