The future of bipartisanship as a strategy of presidential governing Chapter uri icon


  • Every president requires a strategy for governing' for bringing about changes in public policy. One approach' which is popular with the public' is to try to create opportunities for change by reaching across the congressional aisle and attracting bipartisan support. Such support can be critical in overcoming a Senate filibuster or effectively appealing to Independents in the public' who find bipartisanship reassuring. The Washington Post reported that the Obama legislative agenda was built around what some termed an "advancing tide" theory: "Democrats would start with bills that targeted relatively narrow problems' such as expanding health care for low-income children' reforming Pentagon contracting practices' and curbing abuses by credit-card companies. Republicans would see the victories stack up and would want to take credit alongside a popular president. As momentum built' larger bipartisan coalitions would form to tackle more ambitious initiatives."1 Moreover' the president and his aides believed that a fair number of Republican lawmakers would rally behind the nation's first African American president at a time of crisis.2 They saw his liberal programs drawing on Americans' desire for action and also counted on Obama's moderate' even conservative' temperament to hurdle the ideological obstacles that had paralyzed Washington.3 Democratic activists agreed. "It is quite possible to see him as liberal and having an activist agenda' but being a type of leader who does not polarize partisans and finds ways of bringing people together to work on the things where they can find common ground'" said Stanley B. Greenberg' a pollster in Bill Clinton's White House. "With this type of leader' the pent-up demand for action on the economy' health care and energy allows us to reach a series of big moments where many Republicans join the process and perhaps proposals pass with overwhelming majorities."4 Just how realistic is the prospect that presidents will govern through obtaining bipartisan support?. Copyright 2011 by The University Press of Kentucky. All rights reserved.

author list (cited authors)

  • Edwards, G. C.

complete list of authors

  • Edwards, GC

Book Title

  • The Presidency in The Twenty-First Century

publication date

  • December 2011