Normally, Washington is all about the partisanship. Neither side can see things from the perspective of the other, and compromise has gotten to the point where both groups throw their ideas in together and pass it off as an agreement, then go back to attacking one another over the deal. It's gotten so bad that the general focus on politicians, political media, and therefore the nation has rounded on the deficit, rather than a whole range of other issues that are rather more important and pressing but that are harder to work out. Grand bargains abound on Capitol Hill as we watch from the sidelines in anticipation of more political pandering.
And why not? After all, it's what we've dealt with in the past. Deregulation and close connections to the business world have been the name of the game in Washington for decades. Starting back in the 80's, and then gaining speed in the 90's, we've seen changes in how our politicians do business, and treat business, in their legislative sessions. And things like this don't make people all that much more confident that the love affair between Legislators and special interests has grown cold with time.
Simon Johnson, in an article for the New York Times, describes this relationship as the dark side of bipartisanship. Johnson makes the assertion that, when politicians of different parties work together on something, it is usually because they have a mutual friend getting rich, or they themselves are benefitting from whatever they're doing, while leaving their constituents out in the cold. And this has been happening for a while now. So, what do we do about it?
Johnson doesn't go much into solutions. Essentially, he sees it as a complete waste at this point, since everyone is in someone's pocket. I suppose we could all simply vote in new representatives, but it seems as though our choices are being made for us. Many challengers to the incumbents also have strong ties to special interest groups. So, what's the alternative? Third party?
The only solution I see is to elect officials, incumbents or otherwise, that appear to take a strong stance against banksters and special interests. Representatives who, like Elizabeth Warren for example, will work to put limits on banks and investment firms, regulate markets in a common-sense way, and will hopefully withstand the lure of money from wealthy and powerful donors.
This is a problem that is manifesting on both sides. It's interesting to note that, despite their major differences, the Leftists and Rightists agree on one thing: the people in power have got too much of it. What they disagree on is who to blame (privateers for the Left, government for the Right). Both sides, it seems, are right, and that's a real bipartisan platform we can work with.