Partisanship by Another Name

Despite worthy attempts to kill the meme (such as Sam Haselby's recent article on the problem with bipartisanship), the bipartisan fetish continues to metastasize, and has found its way into The Onion. "In an effort to stimulate discussion, resolve party conflicts, and increase legislative productivity, members of the 111th Congress were once again required to watch an instructional video on bipartisan collaboration this week." As Rush Limbaugh pointed out at CPAC, however, 'bipartisanship' is simply partisanship by another name. "We check our core principles at the door, come in, let them run the show and agree with them. That’s bipartisanship to them. To us, bipartisanship is them being forced to agree with us after we politically have cleaned their clocks and beaten them."

The limitations of Limbaugh's duopolist ideology are clear in this 'definition' of bipartisanship. In a wider sense, 'bipartisanship' is the face of the two-party system's united front against real political competition and it is rarely lacking when it is a matter of excluding third parties from the ballot. In South Carolina, "Democrats and Republicans are working together to limit petition candidate challenges to their nominees" (emphasis added). The article quotes SC Republican Party director Jay Ragley justifying the move strategically, "we don't want to see a wave of people playing spoiler," while his Democratic counterpart, Jay Parmly, defends it reflexively, "Our job also is to protect our brand." The critical 'voting rights advocate' consulted in the piece, Brett Bursey (likely of the SC Progressive Network), observes, "There's something about democracy that they're not quite getting."

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