Guest post: And Chris Matthews will get all weepy

Originally a comment by Screechy Monkey on In Congress where it’s very partisan — obviously very partisan.

On a broader note: I’m getting really really tired of this constant use of “partisan” as a dismissive sneer. Not by people here, I mean in the discourse generally. Centrist political pundits are the worst for this.

In practically every other country on earth, it’s understood, accepted, and even appreciated that (1) voters have differing ideologies and policy preferences; and (2) political parties are a logical, sensible, and inevitable way to organize along ideological and policy lines and get things done. Of course, it’s generally acknowledged that there are times to set aside partisanship and come together in a crisis, or to call out corruption and wrongdoing within your own party, but the general idea of political parties isn’t treated as some filthy shameful practice.

Only in America (as far as I can tell), is that the case, thanks to the Founding Fathers having a bug up their asses about political parties, and relatedly hoping that America would somehow be “spared” that vulgar practice. As a result, American political institutions are designed to produce gridlock under fairly mild conditions. The only reason shit ever got done, aside from brief intervals of one-party dominance, is that for huge stretches of history, American parties were these weird coalitions of ideologically incoherent groups, where northern lefties and racist southern reactionaries would belong to the same party. And so you could peel off some liberal Republicans to support liberal policies, or some Southern Democrats to support conservative policies. And yet those were the supposed “good old days” — when parties really were more like the Red Team and the Blue Team rather than any principled differences in policy.

But of course we’re going to have to play this game again, where the eventual 2020 Dem nominee has to pay lip service to how he or she will magically find a way to get Republican Congresspeople to support his or her policies. Joe Biden is particularly going to make me nauseous with tales of the good old days when he would hang out and drink with GOP senators, because you can’t let a little thing like opposition to civil rights get in the way of enjoying the old boys’ club! And Chris Matthews will get all weepy at the thought of Reagan and Tip O’Neill coming together over a glass of whiskey, and oh, how Irish eyes were smiling, and can’t we go back to those halcyon days….

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