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What Being Bipartisan Really Means

09.10.09

According to the GOP of today, bipartisanship simply means that they will stand with their arms crossed, unflinching and unwilling to compromise on their beliefs, which they believe to be the only way to do anything, and wait for the Democrats to relinquish some most of their beliefs to come toward a “middle” which can only be considered a middle-ground if we believe that the current positions the GOP take are centrist.  This is not bipartisanship.  This is not compromise.  True bipartisanship would create policy that appeases everyone by not having anything too far to either side of the political divide, despite having items that are a little left for the GOP and some that are a little right for the Dems.

The point of the discussion in the Senate and the House regarding the health care reform bill should be fixing our current system and it’s in the interest of both parties to do so.  The current system costs a fortune to the government and taxpayers and it will only get worse and worse exponentially.  What fiscally conservative politician would not want to fix it in order to save money, improve the system, and make it more cost efficient?  The current system also leaves millions of Americans uninsured and many others unable to get treatment for their illnesses despite having insurance.  What socially liberal politician would not want to find a way to extend healthcare to the sick and needy?

For all of those who oppose the health care reform, I ask, what is your alternative?  The current system doesn’t work.  The model will eventually put the insurance companies out of business when they find that they only offer their products to the rich or the healthy.  As we all know, no one stays healthy forever and, as the divide gets larger and larger, there will be fewer and fewer rich in this country.  It’s in the best interest for the insurance companies to look at changing their business model.  Yet no one from the right is really offering any plan of their own other than trying to tear down the Democrats’ plan and making it look a lot like not doing anything at all.  In fact, a lot of the concessions the liberals are making for the sake of the conservatives could end up costing everyone MORE than if we just do nothing.  What’s the point of that?  We all lose if that happens and it makes me wonder why more Republicans aren’t asking their Senators and Representatives why they would want to make the system worse, even for some dumb ideological and prideful sense of “winning.”  Is it really winning when your ideas cause the system to be worse?

There’s nothing wrong with differing viewpoints.  People are entitled to their own opinions.  Healthy debate can spring up new, better ideas and concepts that wouldn’t have arisen otherwise.  However, this doesn’t mean that everyone’s opinion makes them correct.  There are still facts at play that cannot be dismissed simply because they don’t fit into someone’s personal worldview or belief system.  Our politicians – and those pundits putting pressure on them – need to remember that lesson of humility, that we all CAN be and will be wrong from time to time.  There’s nothing wrong in admitting fault or that you were wrong.  In fact, it’s good to learn from mistake and to change one’s opinion on a topic after learning new information.  We spend over twelve years going to mandatory schooling where we learn of new ideas, facts, and events and our outlook constantly changes as the world opens up around us.  This shouldn’t just stop.  To believe that you have all the answers and that your beliefs are infallibly correct means the exact opposite, actually.  Being unwavering in all of your thoughts and ideas does not present a sense of strength and confidence but one of weakness, fear, and closed-mindedness.  This is especially true when your only stance on issues is keeping the status quo, as if it’s perfect.  That’s not a position on issues.  That’s not acceptable.  Nothing is perfect and to have your policy be simply to do nothing isn’t a policy at all.

The world is ever changing.  We must accept that we, too, are changing.  This is not always bad and shouldn’t be automatically feared as such.  Compromise is not simple nor does it come easily.  The only way that it can work well is when both parties bring their needs, wants and beliefs to the table and are willing to negotiate to create a plan that both can live with.  It doesn’t mean going against your core beliefs and you shouldn’t be asking someone to completely go against who they are.  The end result might not be exactly what either side would want if they had it their way, but it needs to be something that they can handle, that most of America can live with, because that’s who is affected.

At this moment, the GOP haven’t even bothered to come to the table with any sense of desire to truly compromise and have a discussion or debate.  Their notion of debate is screaming that in order for the president to be bipartisan he must abandon his liberal ideas.  It is not compromise when you ask the other side to simply switch over to yours.

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