Bipartisanship Isn’t Bad, But Its Definition Is

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Bipartisanship gets a bad rap these days, but I’m all for it.

Hear me out.

I know the formal definition of bipartisanship is when opposing parties come together, and negotiate an agreement on legislation. The idea is that each party represents the views and values of their voters and by coming together, they might find a compromise that will satisfy a majority of those voters.

But what good is bipartisanship if one party isn’t even listening to their voters anymore?

At this point, we’ve got mountains of evidence to show Republicans aren’t listening to their voters. They don’t hold town halls, they don’t respond to their voters, their voicemails are always full, they turn people away from their offices, and the list goes on.

We’ve got Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) holding up crucial legislation because he believes that one party shouldn’t be unilaterally passing legislation, and continues to work (fruitlessly in my opinion) to find some areas of compromise with Republicans.

Despite all this, I do think that passing legislation that is bipartisan is still a good goal. But I don’t think it should be a bipartisan group of POLITICIANS who agree; no, I think it should be a bipartisan group of VOTERS who agree.

For example, let’s look at the most recent COVID relief bill. Not a single Republican Senator nor Representative voted for it. Therefore, it was most certainly not bipartisan. However, roughly 70% of Americans approved of the bill, and that included 64% of Republican voters. If Republican politicians were listening to their constituents and voting for the values they espouse, they would have voted for it.

(This does explain why so many Republicans, despite voting against the bill, are publicly touting the benefits of the bill back in their districts.)

We’re seeing broad, bipartisan support among voters for a variety of proposed legislation by the Biden administration:

67% of Americans support the For the People Act (HR1)

8 of the 9 parts of Biden’s infrastructure plan surveyed received support from more than 70% of the public.

84% of voters approve of universal background checks for gun purchases, including over 75% of Republicans.

When it comes to this incredibly divided nation, those numbers are overwhelming. Any politician, of any party, would be perfectly safe to vote for those bills and know that the voters have their back at the next election.

This is why I think the bar to determine if a piece of legislation has bipartisan support is by looking at the voters, not the politicians.

All that to say, I think the Democrats have been smart to say publicly that bills like the For the People Act have “bipartisan support from the people.” Let’s lean into this new definition of bipartisanship when we’re calling our Reps and Senators. Be sure to call your Senators this week (yes, again) and press them to pass the For the People Act. Check out this great resource from Vote Save America that tells you exactly where your personal Senators stand at the moment, and specific actions you can take today.

Thank you for taking action!


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Categories: Explainers, Take Action

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