It’s not just that the idea of working together is completely at odds with the division pushed during the past four years by President Donald Trump.
It’s that the two parties have been so focused on being at each other’s throats for the past few decades that the idea of doing anything together is, at this point, just plain weird.
The major legislative achievements of recent years — tax cuts by Trump, health care and banking reform by President Barack Obama — were all achieved by one party steamrolling the other.
The pandemic, particularly early on, offered an exception to the rule, when lawmakers from both parties came together to throw resources at saving the economy as the country shut down to slow the spread of the virus.
Before unity, accountability
“Where politicians used to perceive a political reward for at least appearing bipartisan, today they perceive risk of being accused of selling out by the more fervent elements of their own party. Compromise is seen by many as a vice not a virtue.”
Beyond the simple optics — do voters prefer someone fighting for their interest or compromising for results? — there’s also a general disagreement over what unity looks like.
Is it passing legislation most people agree on?
Is it a partisan time out before a new beginning?
The looming impeachment trial may not be the best way to achieve that, although the Trump-inspired insurrection demands it.
Certainly the political press is as confused by the concept as everyone else. Here’s a roundup of opinion pieces I saw about “unity” on Friday. The single-word quotation marks are like stand-ins for cynical air quotes. Unity!? HA!
(New York Post)
It’s not all cynics out there. New York Times columnist David Brooks, who I think is still considers himself conservative, is all about it.
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