Patriot Act Vote Reminds Us How Bipartisanship Undermines Accountability
Now, ten years after 9/11, with Osama bin Laden dead, in a broad bipartisan vote, the United States Senate moved forward with another extension of the “temporary” Patriot Act. The vote was 74-8. Both the support and the very limited opposition to this extension were near-even slits along party lines; true bipartisan efforts.
As a result, voters who strongly oppose the Patriot Act must equally blame both major parties for this vote. But of course, when you have only two viable parties and equally blame both parties, the net electoral effect is a total wash. By working together, they totally insulate their actions on this highly contentious issue from almost any electoral repercussions.
Bipartisan action’s ability to destroy basic electoral accountability is what our political leaders love about it. It was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that admitted he wanted bipartisan support for unpopular cuts to entitlements because “When you do something together, the result is that it’s not usable in the election.”
The often praised “bipartisanship” is rarely ever the product of both parties coming together around what the people want, and almost always about using each other as cover to avoid electoral consequences for voting in opposition to the will of the electorate.