CommunityFDL Main Blog

Status Quo? Hell No! When Leadership Means Partisanship

These days it seems that bipartisanship is all the rage.

Not in practice, mind you, but as a codeword sop to the masses as justification for defending the status quo.

The end result of bipartisanship is paring down a bill until it changes next to nothing of import. And then selling it as if it were the greatest thing since the last bucket of lukewarm spit to pass this way.

This is nothing new in politics. The money has always been on the side of the status quo, since change can be costly to one’s bottom line.

And the status quo has perennially been about "I’ve got mine. Screw you," now hasn’t it?

One only need watch the FDR Fala speech (Youtube above) to get that. Or read a little history, you can pretty much pick any era.

What is new? That there is no real voice for change and the little guy capitalizing on this moment in our nation’s history.

And it shows.

Jean Edward Smith has a fantastic op-ed in the New York Times today talking about FDR, the false sop of bipartisanship and the real value of a little more backbone:

. . .this fixation on securing bipartisan support for health care reform suggests that the Democratic Party has forgotten how to govern and the White House has forgotten how to lead.

Roosevelt understood that governing involved choice and that choice engendered dissent. He accepted opposition as part of the process. It is time for the Obama administration to step up to the plate and make some hard choices.

She cites numorous examples of Roosevelt New Deal reforms which were enacted in spite of entrenched interests, and not because they’d been pared down to mere windowdressing to win their support.

Was Glass-Steagall passed in a bi-partisan fashion with entrenched interests on Wall Street given a seat at the negotiating table? Hell no. Social security? Are you kidding me?!?

Were there membes of Congress consorting with moneyed interests trying to block the bill, much like Max Baucus’ lobbyist-filed anteroom? Undoubtedly. Although, as Krugman points out, there’s a lot more of that lobbyist payola floating around these days.

But the real difference between then and now?

FDR sold the need for change at the grassroots by making that change actually happen. And without selling the public’s interest down the river in the process. Which made his grassroots support all the stronger, and enabled him to fend off opposition by painting them as being against the public, fueling more public support in the process.

FDR drew his power for change from the people, not just from the people around him inside the Beltway.

Better political leadership in the Democratic party would help. So would those leaders actually believing in the need for change instead of giving it political lip service and then undercutting it with their actions.

Can the Obama administration still make needed changes? Absolutely.

Will they? Well, that’s the big question, isn’t it?

Christy Hardin SmithCommunity

Status Quo? Hell No!

These days it seems that bipartisanship is all the rage.

Not in practice, mind you, but as a codeword sop to the masses as justification for defending the status quo.

The end result of bipartisanship is paring down a bill until it changes next to nothing of import.  And then selling it as if it were the greatest thing since the last bucket of lukewarm spit to pass this way.

This is nothing new in politics. The money has always been on the side of the status quo, since change can be costly to one’s bottom line. 

And the status quo has perennially been about "I’ve got mine.  Screw you," now hasn’t it? 

One only need watch the FDR Fala speech (Youtube above) to get that. Or read a little history, you can pretty much pick any era.

What is new? That there is no real voice for change and the little guy capitalizing on this moment in our nation’s history.

And it shows.

Jean Edward Smith has a fantastic op-ed in the NYTimes today talking about FDR, the false sop of bipartisanship and the real value of a little more backbone:

. . .this fixation on securing bipartisan support for health care reform suggests that the Democratic Party has forgotten how to govern and the White House has forgotten how to lead.

Roosevelt understood that governing involved choice and that choice engendered dissent. He accepted opposition as part of the process. It is time for the Obama administration to step up to the plate and make some hard choices.

He cites numorous examples of Roosevelt New Deal reforms which were enacted in spite of entrenched interests, and not because they’d been pared down to mere windowdressing to win their support.

Was Glass-Steagall passed in a bi-partisan fashion with entrenched interests on Wall Street given a seat at the negotiating table? Hell no. Social security?  Are you kidding me?!?

Were there membes of Congress consorting with moneyed interests trying to block the bill, much like Max Baucus’ lobbyist-filed anteroom? Undoubtedly.  Although, as Krugman points out, there’s a lot more of that lobbyist payola floating around these days.

But the real difference between then and now?

FDR sold the need for change at the grassroots by making that change actually happen.  And without selling the public’s interest down the river in the process.  Which made his grassroots support all the stronger, and enabled him to fend off opposition by painting them as being against the public, fueling more public support in the process. 

FDR drew his power for change from the people, not just from the people around him inside the Beltway.

Better political leadership in the Democratic party would help.  So would those leaders actually believing in the need for change instead of giving it political lip service and then undercutting it with their actions.

Can the Obama administration still make needed changes? Absolutely.

Will they? Well, that’s the big question, isn’t it?

Previous post

Early Morning Swim

Next post

Rally Finder: When and Where to Voice Your Support for Health Care Reform

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com