Sunday, February 15, 2009

February 15, 2009

     President Obama campaigned as someone who wanted to bring bipartisanship back to government.  His term hasn't started out that way--the stimulus bill passed with minimal Republican support, but that could change.
     Congress isn't used to bipartisanship.  It isn't used to being part of a movement for change either.  You'd have to go back to Watergate in the 1970s to find Congress really playing the lead in Washington.  But that could change too.
      I have no idea whether the stimulus bill will work.  But I do have a feeling that the country is ready for change, that Americans realize they're in trouble and want their government to try to make things better.  No more passivity in Congress, in Washington.  If that is the public mood, Congress will figure it out eventually.  And if some of Mr. Obama's initiatives seem to be working, Congressmen of both parties will want some of the credit, and so they'll give him some support. Republicans who want to keep their jobs will start voting for at least some of his proposals.
     And that would be interesting.  It would recall past Congresses that split, not on party lines but on issues--like civil rights in the 1960s, Vietnam in the 1970s--Democrats and Republicans on both sides of those issues--real debates, not just exercises in "party first."
     May not happen, of course.  But it might.  And wouldn't that make Washington a better place? .     

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