The Only Thing Dumber Than a Republican or a Democrat

Politicians like to brag about having passed their bills with bipartisan support. It shows that they are willing cooperate with their political opponents and that they are—at least superficially—more concerned with the good of the country than with winning partisan victories. And it's a strategy that appeals to those crucial independent swing voters. That's why it was such big news when Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) crossed party lines a couple of weeks ago by voting to approve the Democrats' health-care reform package—even though the Democrats had enough votes to move it out of out of committee without her.

But although it would be nice in some ways if both parties agreed on everything—certainly it would be less contentious—nothing meaningful would ever pass Congress if we waited for everyone to agree. While there is a value in building support for a measure on both sides of the aisle, compromise can also weaken a bill so much it is hardly worth passing. And, as Greg Sargent has pointed out, while people always say they would prefer bipartisan legislation, they may not be willing to sacrifice their policy objectives to get it.

That's part of why our two party system can be so ineffective. It generally means having both parties—each somewhat dysfunctional on its own—work together. Comedian Lewis Black quipped a few years ago that the problem was that we're governed by "The Democratic Party, which is the party of no ideas, and the Republican Party, which is the party of bad ideas." And, he added, "The only thing dumber than a Republican or a Democrat is when these pricks work together."

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

This is the best (and simplest) world map of religions

Both panoramic and detailed, this infographic manages to show both the size and distribution of world religions.

(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
Strange Maps
  • At a glance, this map shows both the size and distribution of world religions.
  • See how religions mix at both national and regional level.
  • There's one country in the Americas without a Christian majority – which?
Keep reading Show less

The world's watersheds, mapped in gorgeous detail

Hungarian cartographer travels the world while mapping its treasures.

Strange Maps
  • Simple idea, stunning result: the world's watersheds in glorious colors.
  • The maps are the work of Hungarian cartographer Robert Szucs.
  • His job: to travel and map the world, one good cause at a time.
Keep reading Show less
Image source: Topical Press Agency / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Though we know today that his policies eventually ended the Great Depression, FDR's election was seen as disastrous by some.
  • A group of wealthy bankers decided to take things into their own hands; they plotted a coup against FDR, hoping to install a fascist dictator in its stead.
  • Ultimately, the coup was brought to light by General Smedley Butler and squashed before it could get off the ground.
Keep reading Show less