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February 19, 2010

Unanimity is Tyranny

Joe Charlebois


The problem with “bi-partisanship” is that it signifies unanimity or compromise. In a nation of over 300 million, there should be very little unanimity and very little compromise.


Bi-partisanship leads to “legislation for legislation’s sake.” It does nothing to advance the freedoms of our people. In fact, the more legislation that is passed, the less freedom we as a people have, and the greater the power the federal government garners through taxation and regulation.


The recent decision of Sen. Evan Bayh (D., IN) not to seek a third term was blamed on partisanship and ideology. In reality his decision not to run for re-election this November has less to do with Washington’s lack of “bi-partisanship” and more with saving his political future and a potential bid for the presidency.


Senator Bayh is frustrated by not being able to play more of an executive role in the Senate. The senator said as much in his farewell speech to his constituents this week at the Indiana University/Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI).


“My decision should not be interpreted for more than it is: a very difficult, deeply personal one. I am an executive at heart. I value my independence. I am not motivated by strident partisanship or ideology. These traits may be useful in many walks of life, but they are not highly valued in Congress.”


The senator – a popular Democrat in a conservative state – served two terms as Indiana’s governor. He has consistently positioned himself as a moderate. In spite of his disdain for partisanship, he has toed the party line and voted in unison with the Democrats in what is the greatest ideological shift that Washington has seen in over 70 years.


Mr. Bayh is the founding member of the “can’t we all just get along” caucus. He envisions a Senate where his colleagues would enjoy the same relationship that he enjoys with his fellow Hoosier senator – a Republican.


“My decision should not reflect adversely upon my colleagues who continue to serve in the Senate. While the institution is in need of significant reform, there are many wonderful people there. I particularly value my relationship with Senator Dick Lugar and have often felt that if all senators could have the cooperative relationship we enjoy, the institution would be a better place.”


Yes, the Senate can still be and should be a place where respect is given, but it doesn’t require that unnecessary compromises be made.


The Senate, which historically has been dubbed the world’s greatest deliberative body, is considered such not because it compromises, but because the debate and disagreements have led to reasoned decisions and the development of great leaders.


There are few if any great moderates in the history of the Senate.


The sharp differences in the conservative and liberal points of view are distinct and healthy. The contrasts and division have forced debate. Because of this pointed debate millions of Americans have been shaken from the “they’re all the same” mentality. The electorate now realizes that it does matter for whom you vote, and for what in turn those elected representatives vote. This rancor and divisiveness can be seen as a positive development.




Yes, positive. It can be a positive force in the preservation of our “God given” unalienable rights. It works as an additional line of checks and balances.


What is the downside to partisanship?


Washington politics is an unforgiving environment that starts when freshman representatives and senators have their arms twisted time and time again by party leadership for the sake of party unity. As a reward for their loyalty, guarantees of better committee assignments and better payouts to their district are offered.


If any reform is needed, it is in the need for a new brand of legislator. This new brand of legislator needs to hold true to his/her core beliefs. They need not back down to party leaders if loyalty means betraying one’s own values. They need not back down to party leaders at the expense of their constituents.


The Senate, which holds a tremendous amount of responsibility in our form of government, should never be a rubber stamp for any executive. It should remain a deliberative body that acts in ways that provide for the protection of the people and the Constitution.


Unanimity leads to tyranny. One party rule protects no individual rights.


For there to be continued freedom of the American people, we don’t need bi-partisanship, we need great deliberation and debate.


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