Partisanship, Political Dysfunction, and $2 Trillion Spending Sprees

After the Senate passed the $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan,” President Joe Biden came out to take a bow. This measure came “not a moment too soon,” he said. “For over a year, the American people were told they were on their own.”

This is the kind of thing presidents say when partisanship defines reality.

One of the hallmarks of hyperpartisanship is to live entirely in the moment. The nearest weapon to hand is fair game. Precedents only matter as a way to show that the other side is hypocritical for violating them. The past itself is a foreign country with no binding power over the “fierce urgency of now,” as Barack Obama liked to say, borrowing from Martin Luther King Jr.

Because Donald Trump lived in the moment, with no historical memory and no foresight beyond the lifespan of a tweet, his administration was a constant demonstration of this dynamic. For example, he frequently insisted that the military had been run into the ground under his predecessor—“We had no ammunition!”—and that he completely rebuilt it. Neither were true.

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