Posted by: Donna
The news media in Arizona are understandably surprised and intrigued by Gov. Brewer hugging AZ House Minority Leader Chad Campbell (no love lost between those two) at the signing of the Medicaid expansion Monday.
I’m as cynical as they come but I thought that was nice. And look, I’m not opposed to bipartisanship on principle. This is for the simple reason that it is not a principle. It is neither a value nor a policy position either. Like its cousin “compromise” it is a strategy, a tactic or tool that can sometimes produce a good result, as we saw with Arizona’s Medicaid expansion (or restoration of what we had before, if you prefer). Other times the result is not so good. Deregulation of the financial markets, the Patriot Act, the Iraq invasion, and the sequester were all bipartisan. So color me unimpressed with bipartisanship’s overall record of success in the past couple of decades. But some do place a high premium on parties working together and feel that bipartisanship is key to getting the most optimal legislation with the least strife. Both President Obama and my Congresswoman, Kyrsten Sinema, seem to favor the approach whenever possible. Bipartisanship polls very well with voters too.
The current configuration of the Arizona Legislature is undoubtedly better, due to having some more Democrats in each chamber than last session, when the GOP had veto-proof majorities in both chambers. I do think it’s premature and misguided to take the Governor’s Medicaid stance and the defection of some Republican lawmakers to her side as some sign of a brighter and more moderate future. Those rogue Republicans have not turned into moderates, and they demonstrated as much immediately after the Medicaid vote to join their colleagues in voting for a voter suppression bill aimed at Democratic voters. So no, I wouldn’t be singing kumbaya just yet. Those who face a real primary threat have all of next session to get back in the good graces of primary voters. And if bipartisanship is your thing, note that out of 282 bills sent to the Governor’s desk, a mere five were prime sponsored by Democrats. That’s not very bipartisan, is it?
So how to get to the magical state of bipartisanship longed for by so many in Arizona? Hmm, that’s a toughie… Oh right, elect more Democrats and have them take over at least one chamber. The Senate seems to be the most feasible. I’d prefer Dem majorities all around (because there’s no evidence from blue states that Dems go ideologically cuckoo when they run things) but at least with a split body we would see some sanity. Yes, maybe gridlock too but even that beats the flurry of lousy legislation we’ve been getting the past few years.
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