Americans deserve bipartisanship going into 2019

Ryan Neely, Guest Reporter

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The 2018 elections leave America in a bit of an uncertain position. With Democrats winning the House and Republicans keeping the Senate, two paths lie ahead of us. One path, the low road, involves both parties pandering to their bases and trying to score cheap political points, accomplishing nothing (since congress is split), and ultimately cementing the negative view of politics that most Americans seem to have these days. Another, the high road, will require both parties to work together and achieve the goals that we can all get behind. These next two years can be productive, and the FIRST STEP Act is proof.

Criminal justice reform is one issue that, despite much interest from the public, never garners much attention in DC. That said, by some miracle, a bill has been introduced that will make some much-needed progress in that field. That isn’t even the most remarkable bit, though. The FIRST STEP Act has broad bipartisan support. That means it has a very high chance of being passed.

Imagine if more issues could be tackled in this fashion. Both parties have a chance to show America they are capable of more than just the same old tired bickering and achieve real solutions to the issues plaguing our nation.

Of course, this will require politicians who are willing to potentially disappoint their bases in order to pursue the greater good. Certainly ranting and raving about how much they hate/love the president is a more efficient way getting attention. That said, the tides may be shifting. More and more, Americans are ceasing to toe party lines.

President Trump is the key to all of this. The reason he was able to win in states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and West Virginia is because he is willing to have these conversations . His support for improving the infrastructure of the US, reluctance to go after social issues, moderate stance on war, and support for some gun restrictions make Donald Trump, in many ways, part of the solution.

That is not to say that bipartisanship is always good. Take for example, TARP (the Troubled Asset Relief Program), which, during the 2007-2008 recession, gave banks a bailout while ordinary people suffered. It was a disgusting display of elitism by many people in both parties. Despite drawing ire from the likes of Bernie Sanders and (then congressman) Mike Pence, it received overwhelming support, just not from anyone outside of DC or Wall Street.

Instead, it would be wise to make last year’s cuts to the personal income tax permanent. Sure, Democrats have much derided the lowering of the corporate tax, but surely they wouldn’t object to hard working families paying less? If so, they have no business claiming to be their advocates.

That said, Republicans are also guilty of a failure to compromise with Democrats in some areas. Expanding background checks for guns is an idea they should all be able to get on board with (like Pat Toomey has), but, unfortunately, dogma tends to rule over basic reasoning in DC. It is possible to uphold the Second Amendment and protect our safety at the same time.

One more issue both parties have a chance to show leadership with is the proposed ceasing of arms sales to Bahrain, a Saudi ally. For some inexplicable reason, the first attempt at this was blocked by the Senate by a wide margin, but another bill has been introduced. The United States has no business whatsoever selling weapons to countries that will most assuredly misuse them. This, too, is a cause that everybody should be able to get behind.

Judicial nominations could also benefit from a spirit of bipartisanship. Now, the likelihood of such a sentiment being adopted by either party is not very high, but it is certainly worth demanding. Refusing to hold a hearing for Merrick Garland was an underhanded move by Republicans, but it nothing compared to the theatrics surrounding Brett Kavanaugh, who the Democrats painted as a rapist, despite, not only a lack of evidence for the assertion, but a preponderance of evidence to the contrary— namely the denial of the alleged witnesses that the party where incident allegedly occurred even took place. Senators have every right and reason to vote against Supreme Court nominees that they feel are unqualified, biased, or of poor character, but for the sake of decency, it is best for them not to take any actions beyond that to influence the process.

Both parties are not equally guilty of causing needless political division, but they both are guilty in some respect. Pointing out the flaws in one while ignoring those in the other only makes the problem worse. Congress needs to get its act together, and having the two houses split gives it the perfect opportunity.

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Americans deserve bipartisanship going into 2019