Sometimes the Quid Is Better than the Quo


Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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8 Responses

  1. Avatar Bob says:

    The distinction you are drawing between compromise and bipartisanship is not at all clear to me. Are you defining bipartisanship as some sort of sell-out? You say, at least twice, bipartisanship is cringe inducing. I need more than an assertion before I will buy that line.

    This is just a thought, maybe you are really praising nonpartisanship.Report

  2. Bob:

    I need to do a better job remembering that this site provides me with a lot of readers who aren’t familiar with my past writings.

    Perhaps this will help draw that distinction:

    Also, please see the old Myth of the Moderate post I linked to above.

    The basic distinction is that “bipartisanship for the sake of bipartisanship” is where a politician simply cowtows to the opposition for the sake of political expediency, usually because of the political benefits of appearing “bipartisan.” This type of bipartisanship is usually more harmful than worthwhile because it subsumes all principles to political expediency, effectively resulting in little or no actual debate on the merits of a policy. But principled compromise, by contrast, is extremely valuable because it keeps in mind an ultimate goal of the “good” that trumps all else; if a policy is shown to be counterproductive to achievement of that “good,” or at the very least irrelevant thereto, then it is to the benefit of all involved parties to make changes to the policy.Report

  3. Avatar Bob says:

    Mark, here is my problem, your definition of the term really does not fit any standard definition. As I search the term “compromise” is often mentioned as part of the definition. My background is in history and political science and I must say your use of the term does not comport with standard usage.Report

  4. Bob:
    Perhaps I should clarify that I’m not attacking ALL bipartisanship, just a particular form of bipartisanship. Similarly, I’m not saying that ALL compromise is good, but rather just a particular form of compromise.

    Perhaps it would be better to state that compromise and/or bipartisanship are detrimental when they require at least one party to the compromise to act in derogation of a basic, foundational principle; meanwhile, compromises and/or bipartisanship that allow each party to act in accordance with their foundational principles are usually good.

    That said, I’ll be the first to admit that this is an extremely amorphous concept that I’ve been struggling to refine for an extremely long time. But I utterly reject the conventional wisdom that something is good as long as it can get the votes of large portions of both parties.

    But you may well be correct that ultimately I am praising nonpartisanship.Report

  5. Avatar Bob says:

    Mark, thanks. About six weeks ago Will Wilkinson called me a pendant because I called him on a certain construction. Now, I know pendant is not a term one should embrace, but I could not take offense. Words matter, I try to be precise. (Fail often.) Simple declarative sentences work best, for me.Report

  6. Bob – no problem. I actually appreciate being challenged on these definitions, because those challenges help me to refine, examine, and test these arguments.Report