Past Bipartisan Actions: Can This Happen Again As Joe Biden Hopes For, Or Is This A Mirage?

In the past, despite political party conflict on beliefs and principles, we saw bipartisan actions and crossing party lines to accomplish major goals.

Here are four examples of such situations since World War II where a President of one party and a Congressional leader of the opposition party cooperated, and brought along other votes from their party to back the President of the opposition party.

When Democratic President Harry Truman was in office, and the Cold War with the Soviet Union was evolving, Truman was able to gain key Republican support from the Republican Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the 80th Congress, Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, for the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan in 1947-1948.

When Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower was in office, he was able to work cooperatively with the Democratic leaders of both houses of Congress from 1955-1961 on many matters. Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn and Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson, both from Texas, worked across the party lines in many situations, particularly on the first Civil Rights Acts (1957 and 1960) since Reconstruction after the Civil War.

When Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson was in office, he was able to gain support of Republican Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen of Illinois on gaining necessary support on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Medicare passage in 1965.

When Republican President Ronald Reagan was in office, he was able to come to an agreement with Democratic Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill to protect Social Security long term by a bipartisan agreement in 1983.

Since the 1990s and the hardline partisanship of the Republican Party and then Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in the Republican Revolution of 1994, we have seen unwillingness by that party to have any willingness to cross party lines, and his early efforts were also pursued by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell right up to the present!

So President Elect Joe Biden’s publicly expressed hopes for bipartisan actions in these disastrous times to be accomplished, is it a mirage? We shall find out soon!