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Enough With the Bipartisanship


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enough-with-the-bipartisanshipAmerican Spectator:

In 1987, on the evening of her third general election victory as leader of the Conservative Party, the late and great Margaret Thatcher gave a speech before her constituents in the district of Finchley. It was mostly boilerplate stuff—thanking the voters, praising the poll watchers. But there was also something distinctly un-American going on: the address was constantly being interrupted by hecklers. Every time jeers broke out, Thatcher would smile, durable and unflappable, until quiet was restored.

This is how politics works in Britain, where it’s expected that the nation’s leader can handle an occasional boo or insult. The most familiar illustration of this is Prime Minister’s Questions, where the prime minister engages in a rapid-fire debate with the leader of the opposition while backbenchers hoot and holler. And this is tame compared to many other countries. In 2008, the South Korean parliament had 47 cases of “parliamentary disorder” a polite term for “brawl.”

But here in America, politics is a far more sterile affair. It’s expected that constituents will respect lawmakers, and it’s expected that lawmakers will work with other lawmakers to pass legislation. “Bipartisanship” and “reaching across the aisle” are hallowed terms. Ideologies are held suspect, disagreements are muted, and anger is considered bad form.Scissors-32x32.png

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