I hope the title of this piece is long enough, otherwise the hell with it. But I agree with the notion of this blog from the Reform Party that governing simply shouldn’t be about compromise. That even with a divided government with two parties that do not like each other which is putting it very mildly and certainly do not trust each other that both sides at the end of the business day still have a responsibility to not only govern, but to govern well.
And in divided government like today that means taking the best from both sides and putting into a package that works. And throwing out the garbage from both sides instead of just splitting the difference on each key issue. As if that is governing even when trying to go half way on each issue may not and in most cases does not result in a good end result. And there are plenty of examples going back to the early 1980s when the Federal Government became very partisan with a new Conservative President in Ronald Reagan, with a Conservative Republican Senate. To go with a Progressive Democratic House where they managed to govern very well with divided Congress’s.
It is not so much the art of the compromise that should try to be reached. But the art of the consensus. What do both sides want and on a lot of key issues both sides tend to have the same end goals. And after that has been established now where are both sides, what would each side do if they were completely in charge. In other words what is the opening offer from both sides so we know where both side is. And after that has been established you look to the common ground.
You find that and you put that in the final package and then after that you look for victories from both sides, the good from each side and put their ideas alone on certain key issues.
For example, the 1996 Welfare to Work Law is a perfect example. Republicans wanted time limits and work requirements in the new Welfare system. Democrats wanted job training, education and childcare for people on Welfare. What happened is both sides won and the final bill had job training, education, childcare, time limits and job requirements.
You take the good from both sides and throw out the things that probably wouldn’t work. Or that both sides simply can’t live with. Meaning both sides get their victories, but do not get everything they are looking for. Instead of just splitting the difference and running for the middle on the key issues. And that is how you get good government in a divided government.
Stanford University: Leon Penetta- Reasons For The Bipartisanship in Washington