bipartisan: of, relating to, or involving members of two parties
nonpartisan: not partisan especially: free from party affiliation, bias, or designation
Are these dirty words? I’d like to think not, in spite of what seems to be the messaging appearing on the nightly news, nationally and locally.
Lack of bipartisanship, for example, creates many problems.
- A Supreme Court nomination held up for more than a year and then discarded.
- Other Supreme Court nominations decided on strict party line votes.
- Inability to make progress on health care, gun regulation, immigration, and a host of other issues.
- State restrictions on home rule.
- Immigrant sanctuary cities; gun sanctuary cities.
The list could be extended for pages. Bipartisan sure seems to be a distasteful word for many. The rhetoric is harsh, uncompromising, nasty. I understand differences of opinion on issues. I don’t understand inability to listen to opposing views and work together to reach a compromise. Sure, no one gets everything they want, but everyone gets something. Is that so bad? Especially given the current situation where heels are dug in and nothing gets resolved? Where decisions are based on the next election rather than the good of the community?
The truth is, bipartisan is not a dirty word. And in spite of what I’ve said, I realize there is effort by some legislators at all levels of government to forge relationships that can lead to cooperation. We’ve seen attempts on immigration and gun safety, for example, where some Republicans and some Democrats have worked together to propose solutions. Not perfect, but better than nothing. Unfortunately, lack of bipartisanship killed those attempts. And I’m afraid that has discouraged other compromises.
I heard a talk by a congressional representative. He said true bipartisanship does work on 60% of the legislation that arises, a statement backed by others present, both Republican and Democrat. Unfortunately, it’s the 40% remaining that deal with the major issues. But I give credit to anyone attempting such an effort on anything.
I think the public has to demand a bipartisan approach to find solutions to national and local problems. To do that, though, we all have to be willing to compromise, to distance ourselves from “my way or the highway.” Can we do it? I’m not sure. We are all so smug in our correctness, no matter which side we’re on. But if we don’t show the way, I don’t think we can expect our representatives to lead.
Now what about the other word: nonpartisan? That’s a different animal. To be nonpartisan you have to step away from the two parties, to look at issues only and take stands independent of political consequences. It means you work with anyone who will assist with the issues of importance to you.
Many organizations have adopted the nonpartisan philosophy. There are hundreds in this category, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Brady Campaign, the League of Women Voters, and the National Association of Towns and Townships.
This means they will work with Democrats when it advances the causes in which they believe, and with Republicans for the same reason. It means they won’t stand only with Democrats on causes also embraced by Republicans, and vice versa.
It seems to me true nonpartisanship is a courageous approach to dealing with our ills. We could all use a dose of it.
Both bipartisan and nonpartisan are noble concepts in different ways. They are signs of hope. We should demand more of both.
Unless you want the current situation in our country to continue.
May you all have the very happiest of Thanksgivings!