America's Real Problem: Too Much Bipartisanship

tags: presidency, Congress



Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Jimmy Carter" and "Governing America."

(CNN) -- The year ended with the familiar laments about partisan gridlock in Washington, and 2014 began with more of the same. The list of failures that can be attributed to the parties constantly bickering is long. Congress has been unable to address the big problems of the day, such as immigration or climate change, and party polarization has caused ongoing distress in economic markets.

But with all of our discussions of difference and discord, too often we miss some areas where both parties are actually in unspoken agreement. There is a consensus view that encapsulates what's really wrong in Washington.

There are three points of agreement that have had particularly ill effects on the nation:

The national security state

Neither party is interested in seriously reforming our national security state. This is an old problem. In 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower warned during his farewell address that the "military-industrial complex" that was created during the Cold War threatened the nation's budget, its military strategy and its civil liberties.

Over half a century later, the problem continues. For all the fights that have taken place on Capitol Hill, it is remarkable how the national security system created in the wake of 9/11 has proven so resilient.

After the National Security Agency surveillance revelations of 2013, there has certainly been more momentum for restricting how much information the federal government can collect in pursuit of terrorists. But thus far the push has been limited....



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