Thursday, January 15, 2009


Massimo Pigliucci is one of my favorite writers on philosophy and politics. Despite the fact that he’s a scientist he writes often on these things and I’ve found myself in agreement with him almost every time, even more than I agree with Dawkins. He really nails my feelings of bipartisanship in his latest blog entry: Why I don’t believe in bipartisanship:
Let me start with an example from my native country, Italy. For the past couple of decades Italy has been de facto a country with two parties: although there are in theory many parties big and small, they gravitate toward one of two “poles,” and it is one or the other of these two coalitions that has held power in the country for several years at a time. Now, just like in the US, the Italian left often speaks of bipartisanship and cooperation, and they (largely) mean it; as a result, the Italian left gets almost nothing of relevance done while in power. Then it’s the other guys’ turn, and they plunge head down with their agenda, completely oblivious to and even openly scornful of calls for cooperation and compromise. The result is that Italy has been on a steady trajectory to become one of the most regressive, unjust and racist countries in Europe. And unfortunately I do not see a reversal of this slide for many years to come, given the apparent inability of the left to mount any significant opposition to the Berlusconi government.
This is what I’m afraid of, that Obama will bend over backwards to try and create a union with the right wingers and the end results will be actions so watered down as to be worthless or simply obstructionism that prevents anything from getting done. We only have a short time to work before the pendulum swings back to the right so we don’t have time to waste. Even worse, if Obama does not deliver the Democrats might not be in charge past his administration.

When FDR took over and created the New Deal in the 30’s it lasted until 1980 when Reagan started taking it apart. And did Reagan or any Republican ever worry about bipartisanship? Not one damn bit, they plowed ahead and did what they wanted, no matter how outrageous. FDR's legacy of liberalism lasted so long because he was incredibly successful and got a lot done. Obama has to do the same if we want the Democrats to hold power for long. And don't think the Republicans don't know this, they will want to stop as much as they can.

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