Blueprint for a Bipartisan Government

BipartisanPolicyCenterFormer Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker (R), Tom Daschle (D), Bob Dole (R) and George Mitchell (D) started the Bipartisan Policy Center, a non-profit organization, in 2007. It is the only Washington-based think tank that “actively promotes bipartisanship.”  In 2013 the BPC began to investigate the “causes and consequences of America’s partisan political divide and to advocate for specific reforms that will improve the political process and that will work in a polarized atmosphere.”

They recently released their finding in “Governing in a Polarized America: A Bipartisan Blueprint to Strengthening our Democracy.”  (You can download the full report or various summaries.) The BPC organized their research into three broad areas:

  • Electoral System Reform
  • Congressional Reform
  • A More Engaged Citizenry

The BPC has realize are confused by the electoral system. They suggest having each state that has primaries hold them on a common Primary Election Day. Their reasoning is that a common congressional primary day will increase media attention and awareness potentially leading to more participation.

They also recognize that the number of competitive congressional races have decreased decade by decade and suggest that States used bipartisan redistricting commissions to draw the district’s boundaries.

They suggest improving the accuracy of the voters’ lists, and that congress members are spending too much time on fund raising. They have suggestions to alleviate those concerns.

Congressional Reform includes having congress spend more time in Washington. They suggest 5-day work weeks, three straight weeks in DC and  1 week in their home district. They Senate and House should be similar schedules. They suggest that the President meets with the leaders of the House and the Senate at least once a month, and, that the Congress should invite the President to attend  caucuses twice a year. There was discussions on the filibuster and ways to include the minority party in the policymaking process. They suggest automatic discussions of amendments from both parties. They are suggesting that Congress develops a two-year budget system.

In their “Call to Service” thread, they are seeking a more engaged electorate. The BPC suggested having all Americans aged 18 to 28 year old commit to one full year of service to the community and the nation. The service could include the military, running for office, mentoring, civil service such as Peace Corp and Americcorps, or non-profit and religious entities.

Is there hope that this document might be the catalyst that decreases the wide divide that is holding up the government? Chuck Todd of MSNBC, who called the Blueprint a “guide about how to get a long.”, interviewed Trent Lott and Tom Daschle about the Blueprint. The BPC members’ feel that many congressional leaders will be willing to consider, and hopefully accepting many of their suggestions.

Would our congressman, Tom Reed, be in favor of the Blueprint?


About pystew

Retired Teacher, political science geek, village trustee. I lean a little left, but like a good political discussion. My blog, the New NY 23rd (http://newny23rd) is about discussing the issues facing the people of our new congressional district. Let's hear all sides of the issues, not just what the candidates want us to hear.
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5 Responses to Blueprint for a Bipartisan Government

  1. solodm says:

    Even with the apparent abysmal failure of the No Labels Group to bring polar opposites to the table – Hope Springs Eternal.
    Two of the women Commissioners of the BPC from very different ends of the political spectrum, appear to agree.
    Jennifer M. Granholm is the former governor of Michigan. She teaches courses in law and public policy at University of California, Berkeley. Here is her statement of purpose as to why she is a Commissioner for the BPC:

    Karen Huges, also a Commissioner for the BPC, serves as Burson-Marsteller’s worldwide vice chair. She is a trusted counselor to corporate, nonprofit, and political leaders, providing strategic communications, corporate positioning, and messaging advice. Here is her statement purpose:

    I’m wondering why this commission felt the need to give this disclaimer on it’s final report?
    “The findings and recommendations expressed herein are solely those of the
    commission and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the Bipartisan
    Policy Center, its founders, or its Board of Directors.”

    In answer to the question ” Would our congressman, Tom Reed, be in favor of the Blueprint?” -that probably depends on whether he found it advantageous to his re-election.


  2. whungerford says:

    “..bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view” — Republican politician Richard Mourdock

    Sadly, one thing that Democrats and Republicans agree on is a congressional calendar that maximizes time spent at home. Many members may conclude from the defeat of Eric Cantor that they should spend even more time at home. It would be a great inconvenience for Tom Reed, for example, to buy a house in the Capitol, uproot his family, and move there. Joining No Labels suggests that he recognizes the lack of collegiality in Congress; yet the advantages of maintaining his residence in Corning are overwhelming.

    No Labels may be a start, and perhaps more can be done, but the initiative to reform Congress is unlikely to come from Congress. From where then might it come?


  3. solodm says:

    The people demanding it. Nothing else will work. How the people get them to listen? Voting.


  4. whungerford says:

    It is hard to imagine a popular movement to reform the legislative calendar which would cause Congress to act against its own interests when House misleaders can decide to do nothing much for nine months, or even for an entire term, without provoking significant public outrage.


  5. solodm says:

    Sadly true.


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