Notable bipartisan politicians?
August 30, 2014 1:05 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for good examples of bipartisan politicians. Particularly, individuals (or a pair of leaders) known for consistently and effectively reaching across party lines throughout their career. Can be global, not just US, but they need to be well known to a global audience. (No cynical jokes please. Unless they're good, of course...)
posted by DIYer to Law & Government (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Former Senator Chris Dodd comes immediately to mind. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak about the Dodd-Frank Act earlier this summer, and he mentioned that as the act was coming together, he paired up members of the Senate Banking Committee -- one Democrat with one Republican -- in order to foster bipartisanship and encourage people to reach across party lines. Here is more info about it.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 1:16 PM on August 30, 2014

Gerald Ford had that kind of reputation when he was House Minority Leader. After Agnew resigned, leaders of both parties visited Nixon and told him that Ford was the only candidate that they would accept to be appointed Vice President to replace Agnew.

Nixon got the message and nominated Ford. The Senate confirmed him 92-3 and the House 387-35.

This was right at the hottest point of the Watergate scandal, and everyone involved knew there was a good chance they were picking the next President in this action.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:28 PM on August 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Senator Ted Kennedy. He was known as a liberal lion but, as Wikipedia summarizes, he still reached across the aisle:
Kennedy co-sponsored another 550 bills that became law after 1973. Kennedy was known for his effectiveness in dealing with Republican senators and administrations, sometimes to the irritation of other Democrats. During the 101st Congress under President George H. W. Bush, at least half of the successful proposals put forward by the Senate Democratic policy makers came out of Kennedy's Labor and Human Resources Committee. During the 2000s, almost every bipartisan bill signed during the George W. Bush administration had significant involvement from Kennedy.
One example: his work with the W. Bush Administration to pass No Child Left Behind even while opposing a great deal of other Bush initiatives.
posted by JackBurden at 1:37 PM on August 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Lyndon Johnson practically invented this. There was so much legislation passed during his administration because not only did he have relationships with everyone in both houses, he knew where the bodies were buried.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:58 PM on August 30, 2014 [5 favorites]

John Danforth popped to mind, and sure enough, he is part of the Bipartisan Policy Center, along with George Mitchell and Bob Dole, two others who I was thinking about listing.

And then, of course, there is Lyndon Johnson who is probably the ur example of this. (On preview, Ruthless Bunny noted this--the Robert Caro biographies on LBJ are well worth reading.)
posted by HonoriaGlossop at 2:00 PM on August 30, 2014

Nthing Ruthless Bunny's highlight of LBJ because Kevin Spacey cites that his character in House of Cards, Frank Underwood, idolizes Johnson.

Lyndon B. Johnson is one interesting cat. I think he was probably the last US President that was truly in control, rather than being himself controlled by others.

He was favored by "outside" interests because he was willing to work with them and he was utterly ruthless in promoting their interests.

He's a really great example of someone "crossing the aisles" for show. I think it's accurate to say that it was smarter to go along with him, rather than end up as one of the "buried bodies" Ruthless Bunny referred to.
posted by jbenben at 2:33 PM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

New Hampshire US Senator Warren Rudman
posted by mermaidcafe at 2:34 PM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by LaunchBox at 3:38 PM on August 30, 2014

Richard Lugar. The main question seems to be whether or not his defeat signalled the end of bipartisanship in the US government.
posted by worldswalker at 5:36 PM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Barack Obama consistently reached across party lines for the first four years of his presidency. He did not effectively reach across party lines because by 2008 the Republican Party had essentially eschewed all compromise. For example, Obama offered significant cuts to the social safety net programs most dear to Democrats in return for some revenue increases. This was rejected by Republicans who refused to entertain revenue increases under any circumstances. The effort was certainly there on Obama's part, repeatedly, perhaps even to the pint of absurdity.
posted by alms at 5:54 PM on August 30, 2014 [3 favorites]

alms, I think you've identified my new favorite beverage, "The pint of absurdity". I nominate it for the drink of choice for Mefites.
posted by X4ster at 6:49 PM on August 30, 2014 [7 favorites]

when i was a lad, mike mansfield and everett dirksen basically ran the senate for their respective parties, and there was collegiality back then, not like what we have now.

/no spring chicken
posted by bruce at 7:02 PM on August 30, 2014

David Lloyd George?
posted by notned at 7:33 PM on August 30, 2014

No politician in my time has exhibited a more honest bipartisan approach than Barack Obama. I'm a Democrat and voted for him and would again - absolutely - but I've been annoyed by him for one thing only, and that's his determination to remain bipartisan when the term has no meaning because the other half of the bi is so partisan it refuses all cooperation no matter what the point.

No love affair ever works if only one half of the pair cares and no President can be an effective bipartisan leader if he's the only one who wants to work as a team.
posted by aryma at 9:38 PM on August 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

At one time, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) was known as an exemplar of bipartisanship, and is best known today for authoring the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, known as McCain-Feingold.

notned, I'm uncertain that bipartisanship has nearly the same meaning in a Westminster system. (Search results for the UK indicate that it's used as much for US politics, and refers primarily to two-party governments rather than multi-party legislation.)
posted by dhartung at 1:52 PM on August 31, 2014

« Older Need someone to help refinance home in the San...   |   Going to a conference. Help me present myself to... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.