Why Bipartisanship is Long Gone

By Rob Schwarzwalder Published on September 3, 2018

The funeral of the late Sen. John McCain has been an occasion for the media to bemoan the loss of  bipartisanship.

A few examples from the headlines:

McCain’s Death Marks the Near Extinction of Bipartisanship” — National Public Radio

Who Will Fill the Bipartisan Role of Sen. John McCain?” — Wall Street Journal

McCain’s Death Signals the Death of Bipartisanship” — MarketWatch

Oh, please.

This is not about John McCain, about whom I wrote respectfully a few days ago in The Stream. It’s about the way the liberal media, Hollywood, and the national Democratic Party share a common view of life’s values and priorities that runs hard against conservatism and its advocates.

Can a Conservative Be Honorable?

First, in the eyes of the national media, there is no such thing as a truly honorable conservative.

I worked on Capitol Hill a long time. One of my main take-aways is this: When Republicans give-in to Democrats, they are bipartisan. Or when they take more liberal stands on some issues, they are “moderate.” Or when they just surrender altogether, they are proving that they’ve “matured.”

When Republicans hold strong or force the Democrats to come their way, they are being extreme. Heartless. Theocrats. And, yes, “divisive.”

This view is implicit in the mainstream media’s coverage of politics. Democrats get a pass and are even praised when they refuse to bend. Remember? Ted Kennedy was the “Lion of the Senate” because he carried on about liberal causes. He was principled, courageous, an example of a man willing to go against the prevailing winds.

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But name a prominent conservative and see what the media say about him or her. Pretty much without exception, they are depicted as sinister, devious, and plain stupid. They are not brave but obstinate. They are not principled but scary. And so on.

Can people in public life be obnoxious? Sure. But that goes for people across the spectrum, not just mean old conservatives. But you often wouldn’t know it from the way the media cover the news.

So, when the media write or broadcast gracious pieces about Senator McCain, one reason is that often, he took a more liberal stance on things than the great majority of Republicans. He had every right to do this. But the media’s affection for him had more to do with his breaking with the GOP at times than his heroism or willingness to work across the aisle.

Bipartisanship Is Long-Gone

Second, what about that “death of bipartisanship” stuff?

While running for President, Sen. Rand Paul was asked by a reporter — on the first day of his campaign — about abortion.

I’ve worked for a number of conservative politicians during elections and while they serve in office. Another of my take-aways is that reporters almost always raise abortion early and often — with conservatives. They never broach the subject, except to praise the candidate’s position on “choice” — with liberals.

When a journalist in New Hampshire pushed him on whether he supported exceptions to his pro-life position, Sen. Paul said, “Why don’t we ask the DNC: Is it OK to kill a 7-pound baby in the uterus? You go back and go ask Debbie Wasserman Schultz if she’s OK with killing a 7-pound baby that’s just not born yet. When you get an answer from Debbie, come back to me.”

It was a stunning and entirely justified response. It was also rare: Most Republicans hem and haw and try to convince reporters that ask this kind of question that because they believe that life within the womb deserves protection, they really don’t hate women.

Paul stood up and shot straight back. Good for him.

Crucial National Issues

My point is this: Bipartisanship isn’t about funding, say, the Department of Transportation. You want $20 billion for the next highway bill; I want $17 billion. We reach a bipartisan accord for $18.5 billion. Great! Bipartisanship is alive and well!

But try dealing with issues of life, religious liberty, the nature of the family, the role of the federal government, modernizing Social Security and Medicare, immigration, and other tough issues. The Left will draw its sword first and ask questions later. Bipartisanship on these and other crucial national issues died many years before John McCain.

Why? Because Republicans do not believe in the secular religion of sex without consequences, government without limits, and nations without borders. To challenge the liberal orthodoxy of such things is to be branded. Not as an opponent to be debated but an enemy to be crushed.

The experience of Sen. Paul speaks to this. His commitment to the unborn and their mothers was an affront to the accepted norms of political liberalism and its acolytes in journalism and government. So, he was asked pointed and hostile questions about a critical issue that none of his opponents ever would be.

For example: When was the last time a reporter asked Hillary Clinton if she believes that nine-month abortions should have any restrictions?

Hear the crickets?

Patriots should always rally around issues important to the future and well-being of our country. They once did. But now, most of the time, they don’t. Why? Because the America desired by the Left and the America sought by the Right are really two different countries.

Three cheers for bipartisanship. But those cheers are now more echoes than celebrations. And not because of the sad passing of Arizona’s senior Senator.

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