Mark Twain famously quipped that reports of his death had been “greatly exaggerated.” At a time when it’s become fashionable to decry the broken state of American politics and wax nostalgic about a bygone era of greater comity and compromise, a bit of Twain’s spirit might be in order. For if one looks beyond this year’s big fights over the debt, the economy, and health care there are still signs that our system can muster the will and the way to get things done.
Reviewing recent legislation affecting our key issue areas, BPC identified over 50 significant bipartisan initiatives introduced in the 112th Congress. This list does not include the trade agreements that received strong bipartisan support earlier this week. From the “Marketplace Equity Act” and the “Broadband for First Responders Act” and to the “SMART Technologies for Communities Act” and the “Helping Responsible Homeowners Act,” these efforts demonstrate that bipartisan desire to work toward shared goals can still be found on Capitol Hill.
In coming months, this blog will call out examples that transcend party politics on issues large and small. We don’t intend to focus attention on the dwindling number of self-described centrists. Our system of government will only work if today’s fierce partisans can nonetheless find ways to work together. The constructive collision of ideas in a two-party system remains the engine of American democracy—with a tune-up and a recharge of common purpose we believe that our two-party system can again serve the national interest.
That optimism at this moment in our nation’s history sounds naive is itself an indicator of the challenges we confront. We hope that by heralding leaders who work together to solve problems, BPC can confront the public disillusionment that now defines our democracy. We think it’s too early to write the obituary for American-style democracy. This blog will highlight a few reasons why.
- Senators Mark Kirk and Joe Manchin Set an Example, October 5, 2011
- Lamar Alexander and a New Brand of Leadership, September 29, 2011