Monday, November 15, 2010


In the middle of this vague but slightly encouraging report about ending the filibuster at the beginning of the next Congress, I found this quote from Amy Klobuchar:
The people of this country want more bipartisanship. They want the government to run better. They want us to help the private sector create jobs. That was the message out of the election, and we'd better heed it.
Putting words in the mouth of "the people" is a standard rhetorical trick that bugs me because the words so rarely reflect anything like what "the people" are be saying.  For this election, the polls I've seen indicate the people were sending only the third of the three messages in Klobuchar's list.

But I want to comment on the first of the three, the message of "bipartisanship."  It's something the DC-based chattering classes talk about a lot more than the population at large.  In the context of the SCLM, it basically means Democrats should shut up and accede to whatever Republicans demand.  When "the people" say it, I think they mean something entirely different.  In that case, bipartisanship means, "I want the noise to stop and technocrats to implement policies I like."  People don't want to have to wade through the claims and counterclaims to figure out what is really going on.  It's work.  Hard work, in fact, because so many in the media are either stenographers or charlatans.  And the work is not done once the truth is discovered.  Politicians need to be called, advocacy groups joined, donations made, letters written, etc., etc.  All that takes time - time people either don't have or would rather spend watching re-runs of Hogan's Heros.  Essentially, indicating a desire for bipartisanship is the adult equivalent of a kid sticking his fingers in his ears and saying "La la la la la" really loud.

No comments: