Post-Partisanship

You may not be able to define the “post-partisans,” but you know them when you hear them, if only because they all seem to use the same speechwriter. Who made each of the following statements? Your choices are Michael Bloomberg, Barack Obama, and Arnold Schwarzenegger:

A) “All of our most deeply held dreams and aspirations require us to build on our common bonds rather than keep resorting to the tired battle cries of partisan politics that divides and demoralizes us.”

B) “Perhaps more than any other time in our recent history, we need a new kind of politics, one that can excavate and build upon those shared understandings that pull us together as Americans.”

C) “We do not have to settle for the same old politics … [We need] a fundamentally different way of behaving—one built on cooperation and collaboration.”

The idea of a politics that rises above partisanship dates back at least to the Progressive movement of a century ago, and the term post-partisan surfaced as far back as the 1970s. But only lately has “post-partisan” become Post-Partisan®, a brand with a following. Advocates say it stands for everything good, including (to quote from just one speech by Bloomberg, the mayor of New York) “real results,” “honesty and common sense,” “innovation,” “teamwork,” etc., etc.

Still, vacuous though the concept may be, the exasperation it bespeaks is real and justified. America is a centrist country without a centrist party, and many Americans, whether they call themselves post-partisan, independent, or just moderate, are getting fed up.

Answers: A) Schwarzenegger. B) Obama. C) Bloomberg.

Back to The 11 1/2 Biggest Ideas of the Year

Presented by

Jonathan Rauch is a contributing editor of The Atlantic and National Journal and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

The Best 71-Second Animation You'll Watch Today

A rock monster tries to save a village from destruction.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Best 71-Second Animation You'll Watch Today

A rock monster tries to save a village from destruction.

Video

The Case for Napping at Work

Most Americans don't get enough sleep. More and more employers are trying to help address that.

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

Video

Stunning GoPro Footage of a Wildfire

In the field with America’s elite Native American firefighting crew

More in Politics

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In