Against Bipartisanship

Robert B. Talisse in 3:AM Magazine:

To be sure, the bipartisan civic ethos is an indispensable ingredient of a flourishing democracy.  But it cannot be cultivated under conditions where everything we do is plausibly regarded an expression of our political loyalties.  When politics is all we ever do together, our efforts to repair democracy by means of strategies for enacting better politics are doomed simply to backfire.  What is required instead is the reclaiming of regions of social space for shared activities that are in no way political, occasions for cooperative endeavors in which the participants’ political affiliations are not merely suppressed or bracketed, but irrelevant and out of place.  If you now find yourself wondering whether such collaborations could possibly exist, you have placed your finger firmly on the problem of polarization.  For polarization has led not only to the colonization of our social environments by politics, it also has enabled politics to seize and confine our social imagination.  That we must struggle to conceptualize avenues of social collaboration that are not structured around our political identities is the fullest manifestation of the problem of polarization.  To frame the upshot somewhat paradoxically, if we want to repair our democracy, we need to focus our collective attention elsewhere.

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