Bipartisanship is an integral part of the American political system, but in recent years it has become a scarce commodity. With the latest agreement on the US debt ceiling, President Joe Biden is attempting to reignite this spirit of bipartisan compromise by making concessions to the plans put forward by the Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell.
The deal achieved between the two men on the debt ceiling marks a significant shift in how the nation conducts its business, and in some ways, serves as a reminder of the bipartisanship that was so pervasive in the 1990s. In his statement, Mr. Biden emphasized that the agreement was a “compromise that means no one got everything they want, but that’s the responsibility of governing.”
Yet the agreement has not been universally welcomed, particularly amongst those on the left who feel aggrieved at what they see as Mr. Biden’s capitulation to Mr. McConnell’s hostage-taking approach. The president’s speech itself contained an implicit admission that he had in fact negotiated over the debt ceiling when previously he had stated that it was “not negotiable”.
The truth is that without a degree of bipartisanship, it becomes much harder for government to get anything done, especially during times of crisis. This is why the example set by Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell is so important; it provides a roadmap for future presidents and congressional leaders to follow. It shows that when politicians are willing to come together and compromise for the good of the people, they can still get things done even in a divided and partisan time.
It is this spirit of bipartisanship that will be essential if the nation is to tackle its current problems: from economic recovery to climate change to coronavirus mitigation. It would be foolish to think that any one party could address these issues on its own, and the example of President Biden and Senator McConnell shows that compromise and dialogue is possible even in a politically charged atmosphere.