By Emmett Baumgarten, Columnist
This week, the Republican majority in the Senate triggered the “nuclear option” to confirm Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, removing protections from partisan Supreme Court appointments. Considering Republican refusal, under the leadership of Mitch McConnell, to even consider President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland and the long, grueling gridlock in Congress during Obama’s administration, one thing has become undeniably apparent: bipartisanship is dying. Perhaps it is already dead, and merely a discarded carcass remains. Bipartisanship is critical to a functional United States and is likely the closest America will ever be to eliminating political parties altogether — something President Washington himself vehemently supported. Thus, what Republicans did last week, by going “nuclear,” is a major affront to the function of the nation.
But was it not the Democrats who were obstructing function with their filibuster? Was it not the Democrats who first went “nuclear” in 2013? Indeed, they did go “nuclear” in 2013; however, that was after years of Republican abuse of the filibuster in an attempt to halt any progress of the Obama administration. Recall that it was Republicans who, through their filibusters and refusal to compromise, shut down the government on multiple occasions. Republicans forced the hands of the Democrats to go “nuclear” so that the government could function at all. In contrast, Democrats were simply protesting a nomination they felt was unfit. By no means did they force Republican hands with the same magnitude as Republicans forced theirs.
In order to preserve and revitalize bipartisanship, it is the responsibility of the Republican party to bridge the gap that they created and have continued to widen. They are the ones who have, again and again, defended their extreme obstruction of the government with outright hogwash. Not that Democrats are faultless in bipartisanship decline; it is simply obvious that they have played a lesser role in its catalysis. Attacking one party alone in the name of bipartisanship may seem counterproductive, but it is necessary. Republicans are most at fault, something which must be pointed out incessantly until they accept it. Unfortunately, this may be long down the road, if it is even to come.
American politics have become increasingly polarized, and it is easy to paint a picture of two Americas wholly opposed to one another. Surely, however, there is some commonality binding together the nation. It is essential to find this commonality and, from there, build towards bipartisanship. Republicans and Democrats cooperate and compromise all the time without notice; it is just a handful of issues that cause the most heated debate between them. The fact that these issues cause such contention and so heatedly turn United States citizens against one another is indicative of a larger problem in America: we emphasize conflict, not unity.