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Friday, October 27, 2017


In the mid-1960s a psychiatrist named Dr. Eric Berne wrote a popular rendition of transactional analysis titled “Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships.” His special area of investigation was the dead serious little “games” we play with each other. What Dr. Berne described were not “fun” games, but neurotic rituals in which satisfaction is gained by some people at the expense of others.

This holds true with the game of bipartisanship commonly practiced in the political area.

“Bipartisan” is defined as anything consisting of, or supported by, members of two parties, especially two major political parties. That is the definition of the word.

As practiced, however, bipartisanship is used as a public opinion weapon in the hands of the public. It is hoped that calls for bipartisanship will help beat an opponent into submission. What is said is one thing. What is actually done is another. Calls for bipartisanship become a semantics power game.

Words? Just words? Say one thing; do another. Bipartisanship as used by Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Nancy Pelosi implies that Republicans must compromise their core beliefs to agree with Democrats. Then there are the wishy-washy moderate never-Trumper Republicans in the House and the Senate willing to reach across the aisle in an act of bipartisan surrender to join with Democrats.

Here is a notorious example of how the game is played. When the Democrats held a majority of votes and didn’t need Republican support they still called for bipartisanship for appearance sake. In May 2009 Republicans asked President Obama to include them in discussions on health care. Obama’s response was to send Rahm Emanuel to Capitol Hill to write health care legislation with Democrat leaders behind closed doors shutting out Republicans. In the end Obamacare received zero Republican support even though Democrats sought bipartisanship.

There is a very good reason for Schumer and Pelosi to call for bipartisanship now. With the Democrat minority in Congress mired in resistance to President Trump on every major issue, calls for bipartisan give cover to the Democrat minority. The Democrats are no less fractured than the Republicans. The House Democrats say “no” to Senate Democrats. Senate Democrats say “no” to House Democrats.

Blue Dog Democrats say “no” to everybody. Schumer’s and Pelosi’s problem may not be just Republicans. Calls for bipartisanship shifts public attention away from divisions within the Democrat Party.

Bipartisanship is a staged propaganda event, short and simple.

Here are contemporary examples of how the game is played by the Democrats in resisting the Trump White House. New York Times headline 10/7/17: “Schumer Says He Rebuffed Another Offer From Trump On Health Care.” Ah, yes. But he also called for bipartisanship on his own terms.

Washington Examiner headline 10/8/17: “Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi Won’t Talk Immigration With Trump: Proposal Goes So Far Beyond What is Reasonable.” But they called for bipartisanship.

The Hill 10/1/17 quoted: “Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) on Sunday told House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to ‘get real’ on tax reform following the Republican unveiling of its plan to overhaul the tax system.” The Democrats want bipartisanship. But bipartisanship is out the window before the ink is dry on any Republican proposal.

In all fairness, maybe it is just the Democrat leadership that drags its feet on bipartisanship. There is a group of Blue Dog Democrats who would like to negotiate with the White House on tax overhaul. From The Politico 8/8/17: “The Trump White House quietly courts Democrats for tax overhaul. A few dozen centrist House Democrats have been receptive to the pitch, even as GOP Hill leaders pursue a partisan path.”

Back to the main point, while the Democrat leadership calls for bipartisanship it makes their obstruction to White House proposed legislation all the more obvious. They do not care for Republican, much less conservative, values. They call for bipartisanship in order to appear magnanimous to the voting public while not giving an inch in compromise. They believe calls for bipartisanship play well with costal liberals as well as in fly-over country.

The bottom line is seen in American attitudes on critical issues. Survey after survey reveal that Americans don’t like what they see of Obamacare. Most wish the process would start over with a level playing field, not merely be tweaked in bipartisan meetings. Americans want a secure border without playing shell games with an uncontrolled flow of undocumented immigrants. Americans want a burdensome tax system reformed, reduced or eliminated without a mere tweaking of an unfair, cumbersome system of confiscation.

Having forced domestic policies on a skeptical America in a highly partisan way, Democrat administrations with the help of mushy Republicans governed against the will of the people. This has griped fair-minded Americans.

Are Americans in favor of cooperation? Yes.

Bipartisanship? Take a knee.


Dennis M. Patrick can be contacted at (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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