Biden Brilliantly Redefines Bipartisanship

[ Posted Thursday, February 18th, 2021 – 17:28 UTC ]

[Editorial Note: Already, one month in, I am finding quiet joy in sitting down to write an article and having to think about it. And not in the previous "there are just so many outrageous and scandalous stories from the White House in the past 24 hours that it is hard to choose among them all" sort of way. I mean, glancing casually at the headlines I see that Ted Cruz apparently took a vacation on Mars... although I could easily have mixed that up somehow, I will fully admit. But seriously, I find that I can choose to just not write about Ted Cruz today, because there are other subjects much more worthy of commenting upon. And that's a good feeling, I have to admit.]

President Joe Biden has had his ups and downs in his first month in office. His biggest down to date has been his propensity to telegraph much too early that he knows his bargaining position isn't going to carry the day -- before the bargaining is even really close to being over. He's done this on the push for a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and now he's doing it on the immigration bill just proposed, by hinting that it might have to pass in several pieces instead of a comprehensive bill. Signaling what he'll ultimately accept too early undercuts Democrats fighting for the strongest bill possible, so this could be the start of a worrisome trend. However, Biden did hold rock-steady on the size of his COVID-19 relief bill, even in the face of faux bipartisanship, where Republicans offered an opening bid of less than one-third of what Biden wanted (proving it was really nothing more than the old "stall and obstruct" Republican tactics, in "bipartisan" clothing). So we'll have to wait to see which tendency becomes more prevalent in Biden, over the next few months.

But on the up side, Biden has already accomplished one brilliant political bit of jiu-jitsu. He has totally redefined "bipartisanship" in a way that bodes well for many progressive agenda items in the near future. This move was absolutely brilliant, even though few have realized it yet.

To the political media who actually care about such things (most Americans just don't -- they could care less how many people of each party voted for a bill, they just want to see results), the term "bipartisan" formerly had a rather narrow meaning: "whether any given measure or other vote in Congress had enough votes from both sides of the aisle in either the House or the Senate." That was pretty much it -- it was limited only to politicians. Hairs were split with glee -- was the former president's first impeachment trial vote truly bipartisan, since only Mitt Romney crossed the aisle? Was one senator out of 100 enough to truly merit the term? Or did it require at least three or four aisle-crossers before anything could accurately be called bipartisan?

These linguistic squabbles seem quaint, now. Because Joe Biden has now popularized the term. Or maybe "democratized" it, or even "populism-ized" it? Biden has managed to redefine the term to a new and more expansive meaning: "What a clear majority of the voters -- with plenty of cross-aisle support -- approve of and/or support, in public opinion polls."

That is an enormous change. As I said, hopefully if Biden keeps right on consistently using the term this way, pretty soon everyone in the punditocracy will begin adopting the new definition, and the difference between the new and the old way of seeing things will only highlight how out-of-touch Republican politicians now are with their own constituents. Which, of course, is a very good thing for Democrats, across the board.

Biden can rightfully claim that the COVID-19 relief bill is wildly popular in the polls, with plenty of bipartisan support from the actual voters out there; therefore by his new definition, it already has bipartisan support and can accurately be called a bipartisan bill -- even before Republicans in Congress even get the chance to vote on it. If they all vote against it, then it just goes to show they don't have a clue what their own voters want. Meaning they are the ones refusing to be bipartisan, not Biden.

If this redefinition works and sticks around after this one bill passes, then it will come in handy over and over again throughout Biden's term in office, and far beyond. For instance, raising the minimum wage polls insanely high, across the board. Ballot initiatives which have raised the minimum wage have passed in some incredibly red, otherwise-staunchly-conservative states. So the issue is already about as bipartisan -- with the voters -- as can be imagined.

The biggest beneficiaries of the fallout from Biden's new definition might be progressives and Labor. Much of the agendas of both of these (and there is quite a bit of overlap between the two) are also wildly popular with the voters. It is only the politicians that have kept this stuff from happening, not a lack of support or desire among the general public. The list of such agenda items is a very long one, too, so there are plenty of good ideas to choose from.

One thing that progressives (to some extent) and the political news media (to an overwhelming extent) have not done a great job on, over the past few decades or so, is to make this point a central argument to all their proposals. "This is popular -- look at the poll numbers! It's hard to get this many people to admit the sky is blue, and yet [insert poll number north of 65] percent of the people are for this idea! How much more bipartisan can you get?!?"

Two that obviously spring to mind are universal background checks for gun sales (which polls, at times, as high as 90 percent or more) and the federal government ending the disastrous War On Weed once and for all (polls at 70 percent or better, usually, and every year those numbers go up). Those are just two off the top of my head, but there are plenty of other areas where the public would really like to see some bold action taken -- on climate change, on infrastructure, on immigration reform, on guaranteeing the right to vote, and on any number of other things most people can agree upon. All of which, coincidentally, are very progressive ideas.

The Republican politicians, on the other hand, have just about emptied their ideas cabinet. So many have been discarded in the past four years that their ideological cupboard is truly almost bare. The only thing left, really is "knee-jerk reactionary obstructionism to anything Democrats are for, no matter how beneficial or popular," "absolute fealty if not outright worship towards Donald Trump," and "tax cuts for the wealthy is the answer to just about any problem that comes along." That's really it. That's all they've got left. It's truly pathetic, when you think about all the things they used to be for. Even if you disagreed with most of their ideas (and I did, vehemently), at least those ideas existed. But they just don't, anymore.

This leaves Biden and the Democrats an absolutely clear playing field. It's like the other team is hiding in their locker room, refusing to even make an appearance. If Biden can prove to the American people that he and the congressional Democrats are getting lots of good things done, then absolutely nobody is going to care that to achieve good things, Biden isn't hewing to the former definition of "bipartisanship." All people will care about is seeing the federal government actually working to solve problems again -- the likes of which haven't been seen since the rise of Mitch McConnell to lead the Senate.

If Democrats do manage to get a lot of bold ideas passed, then they will have a much easier time campaigning for the 2022 midterms, as well. Biden could even manage to break the midterm curse most presidents have to face, and actually gain support in Congress (although it is admittedly far too early to make such a prediction, to be sure).

Moving forward, Democrats could easily make their case: "We are the party of action, and everything we've done so far has wide and deep bipartisan support from the voters all across the country. Republicans are the party of saying 'no' to every good idea that comes along, and they have absolutely no good ideas of their own. It's not even that their ideas are bad -- it's that they just don't even bother pretending to have them anymore. We think the difference couldn't be plainer, in fact, and we look forward to campaigning on this core issue for years to come."

And all of that will have been made possible by the brilliant redefinition of a term that used to be a fairly esoteric one in the political media news vernacular. Instead of only counting out-of-touch Republican politicians, Joe Biden has now redefined "bipartisan" to fully include "We the people" instead. This is a real sea change, and as time goes by, more and more pundits will begin to realize its true far-reaching impact. That's my guess, at any rate.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


31 Comments on “Biden Brilliantly Redefines Bipartisanship”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I think a bunch of smallers bills can be a lot stronger than a big bill, no?

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I am enjoying a glass of wine - cheers!

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Biden has managed to redefine the term to a new and more expansive meaning: "What a clear majority of the voters -- with plenty of cross-aisle support -- approve of and/or support, in public opinion polls."

    And, this is just the sort of thing that will guarantee him a second term.

    Doesn't the new president look like he's getting younger? ::-)

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    i'm already starting to see double

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I don't expect the news media to get the new definition any time soon.

  6. [6] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    A nice piece, in line with other commentaries I'm reading, and with my own impression that the Republicans really have abandoned anything resembling a political platform of programs or legislation.

    And I'm glad to hear you're feeling less stressed by this work you do! I love not having to avoid Trump news wherever possible, and not having to click on Ted Cruz news, and not having read explanations of that horrid Representative from Qanon, and not having to deal with any of it unless I want a secret and morbid thrill from time to time.

    Instead I can watch Uncle Joe play with his dogs, or read about Dr. Fauci telling us the straight dope about the plague, or follow the speculation on just which ridiculously normal and important legislation is going to go down without abolishing the filibuster, so that sometime this spring or summer it is abolished, and some real stuff gets passed in the fall in time to be in action and popular by the following year's election season. Ahh.

  7. [7] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:


    Republicans are the party of saying 'no' to every good idea that comes along, and they have absolutely no good ideas of their own. It's not even that their ideas are bad -- it's that they just don't even bother pretending to have them anymore.

    But it’s more than just that Republicans are the party of saying ‘no’ to every good idea that comes along, it is the reason WHY they oppose these ideas! If Republicans claimed the reasons they opposed the ideas was because it conflicted with deeply held philosophical or political beliefs; it could be excused. But that is not the case ... Republicans literally oppose Democrats ideas for the sake of opposing it! Why would they do this?

    First, they do not want Democrats to get any credit for doing anything that will be viewed as benefiting the nation. They want our nation to suffer when Democrats are in power because that is about the only way to convince voters to vote fo Republicans! It is not that people vote for Republican because they like their platform or ideas (and establishment Republicans know this). They have trained their supporters that ANY and ALL ideas Democrats have are ALWAYS PURE EVIL and should be opposed at every turn! And their base took to this training amazingly fast! So much so that their base now views any concessions to find common ground to be a sign that you are a traitor to their cause! They cannot negotiate because that is a sign of weakness!

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Already, one month in, I am finding quiet joy in sitting down to write an article and having to think about it.

    I can just imagine the feeling! Say, what about a Biden Poll Watch?

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Already, one month in, I am finding quiet joy in sitting down to write an article and having to think about it.

    I can just imagine the feeling! Say, what about a Biden Poll Watch?

  10. [10] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Biden may have changed the definition of bipartisan, but it is still not the bipartisan that defines Biden- and CW.

    The definition that defines Biden is spelled BUY-partisan and the definition is self explanatory.

    But if you are going to pretend that you believe in the new definition of bipartisan then you should apply that definition consistently.

    That means that ideas with north of 65% of the people for the idea should be explored.

    70% of people wanting some sort of legalization/decriminalization of weed qualifies.

    80% of people want the big money out of politics and those numbers have been consistent in polls as far back as when weed was still under 50% support.

    The reason this hasn't happened is the politicians and the media have said no to this idea.

    So let's challenge the Deathocrats and politicians of all parties to take action now by running small donor campaigns starting in 2022.

    Let's get One Demand up and running now so that if the politicians do not take action on this issue that effects and prevents progress on every other issue we want action on we can replace them with small donor candidates that will take the proper action in 2022 and 2024.

    Wake up. Wise up. Rise up.
    Get Real.
    Get Credible.
    Get Consistent.

  11. [11] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Here's another idea to address two other problems that make the buy-partisan problem with politicians and media possible.

    One problem is corporate control of news media. The other is big tech (Facebook , Google, Twitter) having control of who can speak, what people can say and hear.

    What we can do is set up a non-profit corporation to buy up media to create a news organization not controlled by the big money interests.

    We sell shares for 100 dollars each. These shares can only be owned by American citizens and no citizen can own more than ten shares. We elect a board to oversee it with people like Ralph Nader on the board.

    The shares can only be sold for 100 dollars as the purpose of owning these shares is to control the media- not to make a profit off the price of the stock.

    Just 10% of the 150 million 2020 voters investing just 100 dollars would total about 1.5 billion dollars.

    We can use the same non-profit model to create an alternative to Facebook, Google, Twitter with that 1.5 billion.

    This is your call to action, CW.

    Will you answer when opportunity knocks or will you keep saying: I hear you knocking- but you can't come in?

  12. [12] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    sure, somebody might convince 15 million people to give a hundred dollars for part ownership in a non-profit. but in order to sell it would have to be run by someone a lot better-liked than ralph nader. maybe try net-stalking lebron?

  13. [13] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Ralph Nader IS well-liked by the type of people that would be in the 15 million.

    He is not liked by the big money interests and the Deathocrats and their partisan supporters that use him as an excuse when they lose.

    And those are some of the reasons that those in the 15 million like and respect Ralph.

  14. [14] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Wouldn't it fun for CW to write about this idea?

    Would Facebook, Google and Twitter block access to the article?

    Would that then become the story?

  15. [15] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    I’m pretty sure that you cannot have a “non-profit” that people can buy shares in. Non-profits can accept donations of any size, but selling “shares” would be illegal. People cannot own shares in a non-profit — this is something that I would have thought you were aware of seeing how you have been running OneDumbMan for like 10 years now... OH WAIT! OneDumbMan is not technically a non-profit organization... it’s more of a Ponzi scheme.

    And there are already news outlets that are non-profits... ProPublica being one of the best known. What makes your idea better than those already in existence?

  16. [16] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    And just a reminder... FIFA and the NFL are both non-profits. Remind us all again why something being a non-profit automatically makes it trustworthy?

  17. [17] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    The Green Bay Packers are a publicly owned non-profit that sells shares.

    What makes this different and trustworthy is the board overseeing it, the purpose and the financing from many ordinary citizens instead of from big money grants/donations.

    It will also be a media conglomerate with all media, including TV, newspapers, etc.

    For example, it could buy up local/regional newspapers that haven't yet been corporatized or start some up with local regional control in place. The national organization could have several teams of reporters that can be dispatched to these local/regional papers when they need help.

    The same could be done with TV along with a national news channel.

  18. [18] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    And if we sell enough shares we could raise 5-10 billion dollars and maybe just buy one of the conglomerates that already exist.

  19. [19] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    if you're going to propose an idea with hypothetical numbers, you need some real-life numbers to back them up. ralph nader has 107.8k followers on twitter. when that's how many he can manage to convince to click a button ONLINE, how do you make the jump from there to 15 million people giving a hundred dollars of real money?


  20. [20] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    I listen to Ralph on the radio hour. I am not on Twitter.

    There is actually a world that exists beyond Twitter, Facebook and the comments section here.

    This idea will get out there the same way other ideas do.

    One person will write/talk about it and then others will.

    It will start small and grow larger.

    What is not hypothetical is that 15 million people COULD do this. There is no law stopping them.

    And the only way to find out the hypothetical of will they do it is to let them know about the idea.

  21. [21] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I wonder if anyone can explain to me why Biden chose Neera Tanden for head of the Office of Management and Budget?

  22. [22] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Don't ask questions that will yield an answer you do not want to hear.

    And deep down you already know the answer.

  23. [23] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    The podcast is estimated at approximately 15k listeners. Still no 15 million.

    Something that COULD happen is hypothetical by definition.

  24. [24] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    She has always struck me as a political hack. I could be wrong. I trust Biden's judgement over my own, after all.

  25. [25] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Now you're just being ridiculous.

    The 15 million do not have to all come from Ralph. (Did you miss the part where one person writes/talks about it and then others will?)

    The fact that it COULD happen is NOT hypothetical.

    Whether it WILL happen is hypothetical.

    For example, you COULD discuss this without being ridiculous.

    Whether you WILL is hypothetical.

  26. [26] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Liz (25)-
    You are right about Tanden.

    You are wrong about trusting Biden's judgement as the reason she was chosen is because she is a political hack that works for the big money interests.

  27. [27] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    The only thing left, really is "knee-jerk reactionary obstructionism to anything Democrats are for, no matter how beneficial or popular," "absolute fealty if not outright worship towards Donald Trump," and "tax cuts for the wealthy is the answer to just about any problem that comes along." That's really it. That's all they've got left.

    Let's add, making it more difficult (and possibly more dangerous) for poor women in red states to get an abortion. To keep the Christofacists in line.

  28. [28] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    hypothetical: involving or being based on a suggested idea or theory : being or involving a hypothesis : CONJECTURAL

    anything "could" happen. that's such a broad statement as to be meaningless. not everything can happen, and until something does start to happen, it's hypothetical.

  29. [29] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    That something could happen COULD be hypothetical but it isn't always hypothetical.

    "until something does start to happen, it's hypothetical."

    That means that whether it WILL happen is what is hypothetical.

  30. [30] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    that is a distinction without a difference.

    i.e. just about any hypotheseis could potentially be correct. you might as well claim that carbonated water is wet as evidentiary support for selling your soft drink.

    personally, i think a publicly financed media conglomerate is not a bad concept at all. for that matter, neither is an organization to support more honest campaign finance. your fault isn't concept, it's ego. get over yourself, and take people's critical comments as opportunities to learn something. at the moment you don't have the knowledge or experience to succeed, and are pushing away the advice of others who do. do you really believe that everyone is simply dodging valid arguments, rather than pointing out gaping holes in those arguments that need to be addressed in order for you to actually be successful?

    in either case, best of luck. also, enjoy some pie.

  31. [31] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    A distinction without a difference?

    Of course there is a difference.

    Your ego will just not let you admit you are wrong.

    Your claim that I do not have the knowledge and that those here do have knowledge they are trying to offer as advice when all they are doing is moosepoop dodges is in itself one of those dodges.

    When you avoid addressing the real issues and make it about me that is a dodge.

    What gaping holes were pointed out that I did not address?

    None. That is why you switched to the "hypothetical" argument- because you know you can't keep up with rational argument on the real issues.

    It does not fool me.

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