Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Era of Bipartisanship Is Over

This week "Mr. Aviation" dropped out of the clouds briefly to visit with the voters who live in the district in which he runs for office and to deliver a vision of the future:

To move "the people's agenda," Democrats need to gain the White House and a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate, says U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, DFL-8th District.

Yeah! It's about time we stop catering to the dictates of the plant and mineral worlds and get back to the agenda for people. Bushes are the real terrorists!

Actually, in Oberstar's inimitable style, he's looking forward to the day when there is no check on the liberal agenda for the Federal government. They get to do what they want whenever they want it, with no opposition. That's when progress gets made. I'm sure Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez would agree.

In fact, Oberstar doesn't think unfettered one party rule for the Federal government is enough. He's got his eyes on our state government too:

He said change will come to enact the people's agenda with electing Barack Obama as president and Al Franken to the U.S. Senate, and also solidify a federal-state partnership by electing DFLer John Persell to the House 4A state seat. That's needed, he said, to achieve a veto-proof majority over Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Calls for control of the executive branch and fillibuster proof and veto proof majorities in the legislatures, where does it end? Here's hoping that under the new regime Chairman Oberstar will still allow us at least a few seats on the county Soil and Water Commissions.

(BTW, our crack Soil and Water Commission Election journalist has been commissioned to reprise his award winning series from a few years ago. Here's also hoping those endorsements will be ready sometime before Nov. 4.)

I suppose Oberstar's excitement over the idea of political hegemony is understandable. Undoubtedly, many Republicans greedily rubbed their hands together over the notion back in the heady days of 1994 - 2002. Of course, Republicans never got as close to this dream as the Dems appear to be now. And the ascent of an ideology whose roots are based on NOT controlling the lives of individuals isn't really much of a mortal threat to the opposition, so the stakes weren't as high.

But, the high horse critique by the Democrats and media at the time was that the Republicans need to put aside their personal ambitions, and their platforms, in order to work with the opposition. Take into account what the minority believes and work that into the framework of any new laws that may be enacted. This theme is actually still alive, showing up most recently in the Star Tribune's endorsement of Norm Coleman. It seems any time a Republican gets elected, his main priority must be working for the interests of people who didn't vote for him:

Coleman didn't begin his Senate service as an agent of bipartisanship. But that's the note on which he wound up his six-year term and which he has sounded repeatedly in his reelection campaign. We like the trend we've seen and believe Coleman is capable of taking it further.

Taking it further? Maybe he can take it all the way and announce he's a Democrat again.

Not sure why we would need "a bipartisan" Republican in a Senate that already has a Democrat fillibuster proof majority. Maybe they're looking for Norm to help the Democrats override all the expected vetoes by that well-known barrier to liberal progress President Obama.

If bipartisanship is truly a trait the Star Tribune prizes in our elected leaders, I'll look for that demand in their endorsements of Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, Tim Walz, Elwyn Tinklenberg, Ashwin Madea, and, Mr. Aviation himself. In fact, Oberstar's obvious contempt for the notion and plans to exploit unipartisanship for all it's worth should result in the Star Tribune endorsing his opponent, whoever he is.