Bipartisan Immunity: Everyone is doing it.

A small story in the New York Times perfectly demonstrates how the Democratic-Republican Party does not advocate for the interests of the people of the United States but rather provides a voice for the lobbyists of global corporations:
In the official record of the historic House debate on overhauling health care . . . Statements by more than a dozen lawmakers were ghostwritten, in whole or in part, by Washington lobbyists working for Genentech, one of the world’s largest biotechnology companies . . . the lobbyists drafted one statement for Democrats and another for Republicans . . . Genentech, a subsidiary of the Swiss drug giant Roche, estimates that 42 House members picked up some of its talking points — 22 Republicans and 20 Democrats, an unusual bipartisan coup for lobbyists. [Emphasis added.]
The Times report, by Robert Pear, goes on to emphasize just how "unusual" this is:
It is unusual for so many revisions and extensions to match up word for word. It is even more unusual to find clear evidence that the statements originated with lobbyists. [Emphasis added.]
Ironically, however, Pear's sources among Washington's lobbying class do not corroborate his take on the matter:
Asked about the Congressional statements, a lobbyist close to Genentech said: “This happens all the time. There was nothing nefarious about it.”
In its brazen honesty, the radical cynicism of the lobbyist's response demonstrates the moral and political bankruptcy of the duopoly system of government under the leadership of the Democratic-Republican Party. Liberal Democratic partisans of the two-party state perceive this as a problem of "norms". Steve Benen writes: "That's hardly a reassuring statement about the norms of the institution." Matthew Yglesias concurs: "one of our problems in the United States is that the norms currently prevailing on Capitol Hill are not very admirable, and the culture is largely one of shamelessness and irresponsibility." These are highly abstract formulations, generalizing to the institution as such, and thus conveniently avoid drawing a more precise conclusion: the institutional norms on Capitol Hill are nothing more than a reflection of the Democratic-Republican culture of shamelessness and irresponsibility. But what is the actual norm at work here? Perhaps we can adapt Sam Wilson's concept of "partisan immunity". Sam writes:
the mere existence of two major parties who monopolize the government between them is proof enough for a dedicated partisan that any move by one party that might reflect badly on the other is automatically partisan . . . the unspoken concept of partisan immunity . . . allows each party to get away with numerous abuses of power or law on the assumption that the other party is less interested in upholding the law than in abusing power to destroy its opponent.
The lobbyist's response above is indicative of what we might call "bipartisan immunity," by which the duopoly parties collude to institutionalize abuses of law, power, and even transgressions of the most elementary codes of honor. The degeneracy and immaturity of the Democratic-Republican Congress is never more clear than when they plead: but everyone is doing it.


Samuel Wilson said...

The remedy for this kind of immunity is to establish an unimpeachable source of accountability that can't be dismissed as "partisan." The most obvious candidate is the people themselves, using a non-institutional method of selecting candidates for office who will represent people, not institutions.

d.eris said...

The problem, it seems, is that confronted with this sort of irresponsibility, people become frustrated and just throw up their hands, when they don't wash their hands of the matter completely. This is the sort of stuff that leads to low voter turnout.