Undermining Partisanship

Subject: Undermining Partisanship
From: Scott Bryan
Date: 23 Dec 2019

I'm writing in hopes of motivating legislators to address the disutility of partisanship. Gerrymandering, rule jockeying, and the competition to stack the judiciary are antithetical to the principles of our democratic republic. They create a debilitating cynicism that erodes public respect for the institutions of government. They misdirect civics into a conflict between parties instead of a cooperative search for wise policies. And worst of all they engender a corrosive contempt for opponents that obliterates our very desire to communicate constructively.

Partisanship has reached the point of dogged obstinacy; a refusal to even acknowledge simple and obvious facts if they run contrary to party positions. Politicians now simply talk past each other completely ignoring each other's remarks and often embracing brazenly dishonest talking points. That creates an environment for fake news to thrive and further exacerbates the chasm between factions. And it gives our enemies a frightfully efficient means to further divide and weaken us.

It's infuriating to witness. It demonstrates the utter disregard that our elected officials have for their oaths of office. I believe it is the reason a man like Donald Trump could be elected despite being so patently unfit for the position. And I suspect that it has cost our nation dearly in ways that will take decades to even recognize. Trump reflects the desperation of the electorate to break the stalemate that has hobbled progress and turned government into a derisive farce.

Inveterate partisanship has escalated to be the most urgent challenge facing our republic because we are legislatively hamstrung until we address this crisis and craft policies that foster dedicated bipartisan cooperation.

Democracies cannot react as quickly as authoritarian regimes to the regulatory challenges created by new technologies, rapid cultural change, and controversial ecological and economic threats. We simply cannot afford such an acrimonious legislature any longer. We must find ways to permanently overcome this longstanding systemic handicap.

I believe we can curtail the runaway partisanship that is undermining our republic. For example, appointing a new justice to the supreme court is one of the most viciously partisan processes we have. But suppose we amended the constitution to make that process a lottery from a small pool of pre-confirmed justices with equal numbers of individuals from both parties. In this way, we'd never have less than nine justices on the court and maintenance of that pool could be patiently thorough and very graciously bipartisan.

In a similar vein, the redistricting process should be updated to prevent gerrymandering altogether. But most of all, the longstanding strategy of exploiting ambiguities in the rules of governance to advantage one party or disadvantage the other is an abrogation of one's oath, a gross betrayal of the public's trust, and deadly cancer to our republic. Congress must rise above these dirty tricks and resist the temptation to engage in partisan sabotage in all things. It makes a nasty game out of what is actually a sacred honor.