Why has Biden's bipartisanship worked?
The paradoxical strength of a weaker political position
Most political scientists, journalists, progressive activists, and Democratic Party staffers were deeply puzzled by Joe Biden’s repeated pledges during the 2020 campaign to bring a spirit of bipartisanship back to Washington. Speaking personally, I am cynical about politics and never had a problem with Biden saying that stuff, but I did worry that he might actually believe it and found it reassuring when he brushed Republicans aside and just wrote a partisan American Rescue Plan.
And yet now Biden appears to be on the cusp of delivering a significant bipartisan infrastructure plan, raising the prospect that we all overlearned the lessons of the Obama years and there are situations where bipartisanship is possible.
Slow Boring readers will already be familiar with the Secret Congress Hypothesis which states that bipartisan progress is more possible on lower salience issues. And I think some of the factors at play in Secret Congress are relevant to the infr…