Bipartisanship is a lot like swimming.
Let me tell you what I mean:Yeah, I know that sounds nuts. But, having spent at least 10 of my formative years as a competitive swimmer/swim instructor and the better part of the last decade helping a member of Congress craft/communicate bipartisan agreements, I know a little something about both.
There is more than one way to swim. There’s backstroke, breaststroke, doggy paddle, kicking, sculling and even synchronized swimming. You can swim for fun at the local lake, competitively in an Olympic-sized pool or ambitiously across the English Channel.
But, while there are many ways to be a swimmer, there is one thing that separates the people who can swim from the people who can’t. That’s the ability to float. Because, the bottom line is: if you can’t float, you can’t swim.
With me so far?
Well, there is something similar to be said about bipartisanship.
There is more than one way to be bipartisan. Despite what you may have heard, it doesn’t have to be about compromise. Sure, there are occasions when the only way to reach an agreement is to give ground on something that is important to you. But, sometimes, bipartisanship can just mean saying something nice about someone on the other side of the aisle. There are also issues where Democrats and Republicans (gasp) agree and opportunities to negotiate agreements where both sides get what they want. (My grad school negotiating professor called it “expanding the pie.”) And, of course, there are issues that don’t break down along party lines. (Anyone remember SOPA?)Read more