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Is bipartisan cooperation overrated?

Image source: revealingpolitics.com

Writing "in praise of polarization" this week, the Hoover Institution's Bruce Thornton suggests that people who complain about "polarized" politics in Washington don't understand America's political order:

What we decry as polarization exists not because politicians are party hacks, but because citizens passionately disagree about fundamental, and sometimes irreconcilable, principles and beliefs that most public policies necessarily reflect. Nor are these conflicts always amenable to compromise, which requires at some level a betrayal or weakening of those beliefs. The conflict over slavery is the obvious example, a dispute that defied every legislative and political “compromise” and ultimately had to be resolved by a bloody civil war. The Civil Rights movement and the disagreement over the war in Vietnam are other examples of “polarization” much more divisive and violent than anything we are experiencing today. In fact, such fierce disputes are as prevalent in American political history as bipartisan compromise. Both are in the DNA of our political system.

It's a though-provoking column that goes on to look at James Madison's observations of such "political factions," the rise of progressives and "techno politics," and conservatives' battle to protect  "individual freedom, responsibility, and accountability, and trust in the Constitutional political architecture."

These clashing visions of the role of government reflect profound beliefs and principles that speak to people’s core views of human life, human identity, and the goods we should pursue. They are not technical problems that committees of experts can solve if only corrupt, hyper-partisan politicians would set aside their selfish interests and meet together in an Olympian spirit of disinterested cooperation. Polarization is not a political dysfunction, but rather the sign that free Americans take their fundamental political ideals seriously.

Check out the whole thing here.

h/t Chris F.

One last thing…
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