Escape From the Asylum

Watching the debt crisis, a former Congresswoman yearns for a lost bipartisan era

Aug 08, 2011
By


The recent political wrangling over the debt ceiling is only the latest example of how divisive our politics have become, says Wilson Center Director, President, and CEO Jane Harman in an article in this week's Newsweek. The problem, she says, is that politicians seem to care more about winning elections and defeating the opposite party than good governance.

She outlines a three part solution to restore functional government:

First, we need sustained presidential leadership. President Obama could use his bully pulpit to build personal relationships with the frustrated bipartisan core in Congress.

Second, congressional districts must become more competitive. I always had tough elections. If you’re in a competitive race, you have to listen to different voices, understand the value of compromise, and work with the other party.

Third, the middle must become militant. Politicians should pay a price for being shrilly partisan. The rewards have to go to the people who compromise and make good policy. Right now the system punishes those in the center. The incentives and disincentives have to switch back to what they used to be, when extreme partisans were marginalized.

Read the full piece at Newsweek.