Bipartisanship crucial to future of U.S. democracy

What others say

Posted: Monday, December 18, 2000

''The Perils of Pauline'' and ''The Adventures of Hairbreadth Harry'' of silent-film days were nothing compared with the election of the first U.S. president of the 21st century. ...

After a harrowing ride through the courts, either (Texas Gov. George W.) Bush or (Vice President Al) Gore will emerge as president-elect.

(The) election, in which Americans showed so little enthusiasm for either candidate, also produced the nation's first 50-50 Senate, and a House of Representatives in which the Republicans have a mere five-member majority.

Our next chief executive, then, will preside -- to the extent he can -- over a nation whose deep suspicion of politics, politicians and political parties never has been clearer.

David L. Boren, former senator, former governor and now president of the University of Oklahoma, urges the new president to openly disclaim any partisan mandate. Then, suggests Boren in a Washington Post commentary, the president should set up a formal process of bipartisan consultation.

Boren envisions minicabinets that include ranking congressional Republicans and Democrats as well as cabinet secretaries themselves. ...

''If the next president rejects this path and decides to follow the usual course in selecting a cabinet and in presenting a partisan agenda to Congress, there will be tragic results.

"The credibility and even the legitimacy of the presidency will further erode.''

Boren is right. As we noted soon after the election, no one has a mandate for change -- nor is there great need for change; the anomalies of the presidential election in Florida -- and, to a less-significant extent, in New Mexico -- come at a time of relative peace and unprecedented prosperity.

In other years, presidents elected by small majorities have reached out for consensus -- and across party lines -- in filling cabinet positions. ... Those would be excellent precedents for the president-elect to follow. Never has our nation been so evenly divided -- and never has a bipartisan approach been more vital to our nation's future.

--The Santa Fe (N.M.) New Mexican

Dec. 12

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