Column: The limits to partisan rage

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My Monday column for the print FT:



For the Democratic party’s most energetic supporters, consensus and bipartisanship have become dirty words. In this, the party’s activists are following the lead of the Bush administration, which feels just as strongly about compromise with opponents. But it is a mistake for the left, just as it was for the right – as a matter both of intellectual vitality and of hard-nosed political calculation – to indulge this aversion to doing business with the enemy.



“Bush started it,” goes the thinking. So he did. George W. Bush was elected president, if you recall, as a “compassionate conservative”. His record as governor of Texas, he insisted, showed he could work productively with both sides: it was all about getting things done. On top of that, he won the election of 2000, putting it charitably, because of an anomaly in the way the US adds up the votes in its presidential contests and, putting it less charitably, through outright theft. All the more reason, any disinterested observer would have said, for him to govern with restraint from the centre. He subsequently embarked on one of the most divisive and partisan periods of rule in modern American history, disdainful of co-operating not only with his political opponents, but even with his allies in Congress.



Read the rest of the column here.

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