Bipartisan But Brutal: Lessons from the Chinese Exclusion Act

Source: American Institute for Economic Research
by Vincent Geloso

“Bipartisanship is often heralded as the pinnacle of legislative achievement. The recent votes on foreign aid to Taiwan, Israel, and Ukraine offered a display of this heraldry. But we should stop praising bipartisanship as a virtue. It is not inherently praiseworthy. Bipartisanship is praiseworthy as a byproduct of the legislative process. When powers are divided, mechanisms slow down legislation and encourage debate, and legislators will pass fewer laws. Those they do pass will tend to reflect consensus. Bipartisanship is an outcome of a better legislative process, not a good in itself. History gives us many examples of how bipartisan consensus is not inherently virtuous and can lead to grievous mistakes. A poignant example is the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, a dark piece of legislative bipartisanship driven by political expediency.” (05/09/24)