Productive lame-duck period proves bipartisanship possible

Following the November 2010 midterm elections, Congress entered what is known as the lame-duck period.  Historically, members of Congress work frantically to pass several last-minute bills, often miniscule in importance, before the next session of Congress takes over and each bill has to start from scratch again.

This time, however, Congress played the game a little differently. By the end of December, Americans had witnessed the passage of health care benefits for 9/11 responders, an arms-reduction treaty with Russia, a stimulus bill with extended unemployment benefits and tax cuts, and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

It was one of the most productive lame-duck periods since the 60s. The best part is that many Republicans supported several of these bills.  At a time when many Americans thought bipartisanship impossible, we were surprised once again. Reason  won out over partisanship.

Even though the Tea Party seemed to have overwhelmed the midterm elections, moderates have an important role to play in Congress. Democrats may have a weaker grip on the federal government now than they did a few months ago, but by making some compromises, on both sides, liberals and conservatives have been able to find that elusive common ground.

To the chagrin of some liberals, reaching out to Republicans will not be the end of the world. Our Democratic leaders may budge on some policies, but they can still remain true to their progressive ideals. A little success is more important than none.

Our party remains optimistic about 2012, and compromise will not only help pass very helpful legislation but will also improve the chances of reelection for President Obama and other Democrats. Change has come more slowly than perhaps we would have liked, but it will still keep coming. Expect the Democrats to turn their setbacks into important gains that will help the rest of America. 2012, here we come.

Gaurav Dhiman is a junior majoring in political science and biology. He may be contacted at