Is Bipartisanship a Desirable Goal?

Since Scott Brown's historic win in Massachusetts last month, there has been a rising tide of calls for bipartisanship coming from the left. This was a central theme for Obama's recent visit to the House Republican retreat in Baltimore. In an interview with the Washington Post, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs called for Republican cooperation on the administration's proposed jobs bill and on health care reform, which according to Gibbs is still in the works; and this Sunday, Obama told Katie Couric that he wants to work with the Republicans on a bipartisan health care bill. 

Where was this spirit of bipartisanship last year, when the Democrats thought they could get away with pushing things through while brazenly running roughshod over Republicans and the American people? 

In light of the fact that the Obama administration has laid out plans to frame the Republicans as obstructionists in order to minimize Democrat losses in this November's elections, can we even trust the sincerity of this administration's newly adopted calls for bipartisan negotiations? Even if the proclaimed intentions of the Obama camp are sincere, is bipartisanship really something the congressional Republicans should consider?

To objectively evaluate an issue, one must begin by defining one's terms. Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines bipartisan as "marked by or involving cooperation, agreement, and compromise between two major political parties." So essentially, it is a matter of compromise applied to the realm of politics. Is compromise an end in itself, inherently valuable regardless of what elements are being compromised? What sort of compromise could be reached between a murderer and his victim, between slaves and slaveholders, or between the Nazis and the people they sent to die in concentration camps? What compromise could be reached between advocates of government-run health care and those who want the freedom to make their own decisions? No justice could ever be achieved by seeking compromises of this fundamental nature -- compromises of principle. 

In her book, entitled Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal, Ayn Rand wrote, "In any collaboration between two men (or two groups) who hold different basic principles, it is the more evil or irrational one who wins." In a compromise between life and death, freedom and slavery, good and evil, only the latter group can win.

Of course, there are instances in which bipartisanship is appropriate. Specifically, it is appropriate when both parties agree on the essentials and the principles involved, and they compromise where necessary to sort out the particulars. But that is certainly not the case now, when one party is struggling to preserve the semblances of freedom and protection of individual rights in this country, while the other is engaged in a full frontal assault on our freedom, seeking to establish a system of government that is more similar to fascism than capitalism. 

Bipartisanship in itself is neither good nor bad, but rather, it depends on the context. To hold it up as something inherently valuable is to commit the fallacy of context-dropping. In doing so, one ignores the obvious and necessary questions: What is being compromised, to whom is this compromise a value, what are the principles involved, and for what purpose is the compromise being made? Therefore, one must reject the premise that compromise in the realm of politics -- i.e., bipartisanship -- should be held up as an inherently honorable goal outside any context without any further evaluation.

The central issue of the health care debate is collectivism vs. individual rights. It is the question: Does each individual have a right to their own life, or does that life belong to the state? To the extent that the Republicans are taking a stand on this issue, they are standing on the side of individual rights. Any calls for bipartisanship in this context are calls for a compromise between freedom and statism, and in such a compromise, it is possible only for statism to advance and for freedom to lose. 

So the congressional Republicans who are now being courted by the Obama administration should heed this advice: Forget bipartisanship. Stand on your principles and do not compromise them. Do not sacrifice the noble ideal of freedom and individual rights, which the founders of this country fought and died for, on the cheap little altar of "getting along," or any other ill-defined, out of context platitudes. Defend the rights of the American people, defend them with every weapon in your arsenal, and don't budge an inch. This is not a political game; it is a moral crusade in defense of freedom, and you are on the right side of it. Stay there and remember that the American people are counting on you.
Since Scott Brown's historic win in Massachusetts last month, there has been a rising tide of calls for bipartisanship coming from the left. This was a central theme for Obama's recent visit to the House Republican retreat in Baltimore. In an interview with the Washington Post, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs called for Republican cooperation on the administration's proposed jobs bill and on health care reform, which according to Gibbs is still in the works; and this Sunday, Obama told Katie Couric that he wants to work with the Republicans on a bipartisan health care bill. 

Where was this spirit of bipartisanship last year, when the Democrats thought they could get away with pushing things through while brazenly running roughshod over Republicans and the American people? 

In light of the fact that the Obama administration has laid out plans to frame the Republicans as obstructionists in order to minimize Democrat losses in this November's elections, can we even trust the sincerity of this administration's newly adopted calls for bipartisan negotiations? Even if the proclaimed intentions of the Obama camp are sincere, is bipartisanship really something the congressional Republicans should consider?

To objectively evaluate an issue, one must begin by defining one's terms. Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines bipartisan as "marked by or involving cooperation, agreement, and compromise between two major political parties." So essentially, it is a matter of compromise applied to the realm of politics. Is compromise an end in itself, inherently valuable regardless of what elements are being compromised? What sort of compromise could be reached between a murderer and his victim, between slaves and slaveholders, or between the Nazis and the people they sent to die in concentration camps? What compromise could be reached between advocates of government-run health care and those who want the freedom to make their own decisions? No justice could ever be achieved by seeking compromises of this fundamental nature -- compromises of principle. 

In her book, entitled Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal, Ayn Rand wrote, "In any collaboration between two men (or two groups) who hold different basic principles, it is the more evil or irrational one who wins." In a compromise between life and death, freedom and slavery, good and evil, only the latter group can win.

Of course, there are instances in which bipartisanship is appropriate. Specifically, it is appropriate when both parties agree on the essentials and the principles involved, and they compromise where necessary to sort out the particulars. But that is certainly not the case now, when one party is struggling to preserve the semblances of freedom and protection of individual rights in this country, while the other is engaged in a full frontal assault on our freedom, seeking to establish a system of government that is more similar to fascism than capitalism. 

Bipartisanship in itself is neither good nor bad, but rather, it depends on the context. To hold it up as something inherently valuable is to commit the fallacy of context-dropping. In doing so, one ignores the obvious and necessary questions: What is being compromised, to whom is this compromise a value, what are the principles involved, and for what purpose is the compromise being made? Therefore, one must reject the premise that compromise in the realm of politics -- i.e., bipartisanship -- should be held up as an inherently honorable goal outside any context without any further evaluation.

The central issue of the health care debate is collectivism vs. individual rights. It is the question: Does each individual have a right to their own life, or does that life belong to the state? To the extent that the Republicans are taking a stand on this issue, they are standing on the side of individual rights. Any calls for bipartisanship in this context are calls for a compromise between freedom and statism, and in such a compromise, it is possible only for statism to advance and for freedom to lose. 

So the congressional Republicans who are now being courted by the Obama administration should heed this advice: Forget bipartisanship. Stand on your principles and do not compromise them. Do not sacrifice the noble ideal of freedom and individual rights, which the founders of this country fought and died for, on the cheap little altar of "getting along," or any other ill-defined, out of context platitudes. Defend the rights of the American people, defend them with every weapon in your arsenal, and don't budge an inch. This is not a political game; it is a moral crusade in defense of freedom, and you are on the right side of it. Stay there and remember that the American people are counting on you.