The very form and structure of two-party politics ensures the marginalization and exclusion of Independents from the nation’s mainstream political discourse, allowing Republicans and Democrats to engage in their well-rehearsed charades. Hypocrisy is just one of the names for the game. . . . On Sunday, Ross Douthat tackled this theme in his opinion column for the New York Times with an article entitled "The Partisan Mind." Douthat observes:Cont'd.
we tend to reverse-engineer the arguments required to justify whatever our own side happens to be doing. Our ideological convictions may be real enough, but our deepest conviction is often that the other guys can’t be trusted.Despite his reservations about such intellectual and political dishonesty, the conservative commentator ends his article on a positive note. He states that, regardless of its drawbacks, this form of partisanship ensures the existence of political opposition and serves as a check on the powers that be. Douthat writes:
It guarantees that even when there’s an elite consensus behind whatever the ruling party wants to do (whether it’s invading Iraq or passing Obamacare), there will always be a reasonably passionate opposition as well. Given how much authority is concentrated in Washington, especially in the executive branch, even a hypocritical and inconsistent opposition is better than no opposition at all.There is, however, a glitch in Douthat’s conclusion which results from his presupposition that the bipolar form of Democratic-Republican party politics is constitutive of politics as such. If a hypocritical and inconsistent opposition is better than no opposition at all, where are we to find political opposition when there is a policy consensus between the Republican and Democratic parties? This question is not as absurd as it may sound. Despite the perennial complaints about rabid partisanship in Washington D.C., bipartisan consensus does in fact exist. One might suggest, perhaps ironically, that there is even a bipartisan consensus in favor of excessive political partisanship . . .
From this week's column at CAIVN: