bi-partisanship

  “There are two keys to unlocking the secrets of American politics and American political history.” So begins The Politicians & the Egalitarians, Princeton historian Sean Wilentz’s bold new work of history.

First, America is built on an egalitarian tradition. At the nation’s founding, Americans believed that extremes of wealth and want would destroy their revolutionary experiment in republican government. Ever since, that idea has shaped national political conflict and scored major egalitarian victories―from the Civil War and Progressive eras to the New Deal and the Great Society―along the way.

Second, partisanship is a permanent fixture in America, and America is the better for it. Every major egalitarian victory in United States history has resulted neither from abandonment of partisan politics nor from social movement protests but from a convergence of protest and politics, and then sharp struggles led by principled and effective party politicians. There is little to be gained from the dream of a post-partisan world.

With these two insights Sean Wilentz offers a crystal-clear portrait of American history, told through politicians and egalitarians including Thomas Paine, Abraham Lincoln, and W. E. B. Du Bois―a portrait that runs counter to current political and historical thinking.

  In Exit Right: The People Who Left the Left and Reshaped the American Century, Daniel Oppenheimer tells the stories of six major political figures whose journeys away from the left reshaped the contours of American politics in the twentieth century.

By going deep into the minds of six apostates—Whittaker Chambers, James Burnham, Ronald Reagan, Norman Podhoretz, David Horowitz, and Christopher Hitchens—Oppenheimer offers an unusually intimate history of the American left, and the right’s reaction.

  Tom Daschle and Trent Lott are two of the most prominent senators of recent time. Both served in their respective parties' leadership positions from the 1990s into the current century, and they have almost sixty years of service between them. Their congressional tenure saw the Reagan tax cuts, a deadlocked Senate, the Clinton impeachment, 9/11, and the Iraq War. Despite the tumultuous times, and despite their very real ideological differences, they have always maintained a positive working relationship, one almost unthinkable in today's hyper-partisan climate.

In their book, Crisis Point: Why We Must - and How We Can - Overcome Our Broken Politics in Washington and Across America, Daschle and Lott come together from opposite sides of the aisle to sound an alarm on the current polarization that has made governing all but impossible; never before has the people's faith in government been so dismally low. The senators itemize damaging forces--the permanent campaign, the unprecedented money, the 24/7 news cycle--and offer practical recommendations, pointing the way forward.

Olympia Snowe

May 20, 2013

    Former Senator of Maine, Olympia Snowe, joins us to talk about getting out of the Senate and how to save it.

Her new book is Fighting for Common Ground: How We Can Fix the Stalemate in Congress.

  In today’s Congressional Corner, Vermont representative Peter Welch and WAMC’s Alan Chartock continue their discussion of bipartisanship in the House.

  Partisanship is rampant in Washington, where a permanent campaign has taken hold. In today’s Congressional Corner, Vermont representative Peter Welch tells Alan Chartock that he is working to forge partnerships across the aisle.