On Partisanship

The President’s stimulus package was passed by Congress last week with both houses voting along largely partisan lines. Every Republican in the House voted no, while only seven Democrats voted against the package. In the Senate, every Democrat voted in favor, while all the Republicans, except for three, voted against the package.

This has led some to criticize Republicans for “being partisan.”

What nonsense.

When a Senator like John McCain, who has spent his entire career opposing wasteful spending and speaking out against large deficits, votes against a massive spending plan that will lead by all accounts to an increased deficit, he is not being partisan. He is being true to his beliefs, hewing to the same ideology he has always espoused. He also his doing right by the constituents who elected him based on those long-held beliefs.

And for the record, the same applies to those Democrats who voted in favor of the plan- if a Democrat who always believed that the government should spend-spend-spend in order to deal with economic slowdowns voted for the package, he or she is not being partisan but also sticking to their guns.

I just wonder if all the Obama supporters who demand that Republicans “set aside partisanship and support the President” ever felt a similar obligation when we had a conservative Republican president. I don’t recall many of my fellow New Yorkers urging Democrats to support Ronald Reagan’s agenda, notwithstanding that Reagan twice was elected in a landslide, with far bigger margins than Obama.

Barack Obama was elected President. He won fair and square. And he ran on a specific agenda. But – news flash – every member of congress also won an election. And many of them won (especially those representing conservative districts) by promising to be fiscally conservative and promising to oppose a massive government expansion. They are not being partisan when they vote exactly the way they promised to vote.

I don’t know of any Republican member of Congress who got elected last fall by promising to support a massive government “stimulus” spending package, and promised to support legislation that would lead to a massive increase in the deficit.

Bottom line: if you didn’t demand that Democrats “set aside partisanship” and support Dubya (or Bush I, or Reagan), you have no right to demand that Republicans do the same and support Obama.

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