President-elect Joe Biden says “it’s time to heal”.
He’s right. In fact, it’s past time. Most Americans have lost patience with widespread political acrimony; many cite this as their reason for supporting Biden.
Hopefully, your feeling is genuine, not just a catchphrase. But the reality is that Joe Biden cannot deliver a unit alone, no matter how sincere his intention. Healing is a team sport, which requires the full participation of players on both sides. Both the Democratic and Republican leadership and the party’s faithful must go beyond their built-in habit of fighting for everything.
It’s a heavy lift. Unifying the nation means making concessions, finding common ground. It requires mutual trust, which in turn requires mutual respect.
At the moment, neither side shows much appetite for trust or respect. Not Trump and his Republican Party followers, bloodied for four years of incessant resistance, investigation and impeachment; and certainly not the faithful Democrats, now full of victories and threats of retribution.
Letters to the editor that appear regularly on this page trickle with scorn and even utter contempt for the president – repeating the tone, angry rhetoric and tired talk points of cable TV 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and social media. Joe Biden called Trump a racist and an “existential threat to our nation”. In his televised speech last week, Biden went directly from his warm words about healing and turning the page to accuse Trump of undermining our democracy by challenging election results.
That’s not much for the 74 million Americans who voted for Trump.
The acid test of Joe Biden’s true interest in uniting Americans will be how his government deals with particularly controversial issues.
One is the virus. Biden won the presidency in large part by convincing voters that Trump is personally responsible for hundreds of thousands of COVID deaths – while he, Joe Biden, has a plan to “crush him”. Evidently, the Biden plan consists of imposing masks on an already masked population and distributing the life-saving vaccine conveniently left by its supposedly incompetent predecessor.
Biden, Harris and substitutes did their best to undermine public confidence in any vaccine produced by the Trump administration; now, post-election, it’s almost comical to watch their weird dance as they praise the scientists who developed the vaccine while they shrewdly avoid giving any credit to the Trump-led Warp Speed Project that made it happen in world record time.
Meanwhile, South Carolina’s James Clyburn himself and others are calling for the investigation and prosecution of those (Trump, obviously) guilty of “criminal negligence” in the treatment of COVID-19.
How about turning the page?
And there is the election. Just because Democrats and the media declare that the 2020 election was totally free and transparent does not mean that it is so. And it is not surprising that the courts are unwilling, as they should be, to annul all 150 million votes because some votes were cast improperly. The fact is that this election was marked by bad faith, rules and inadvisable (and potentially illegal) process changes and anomalous vote counts; and everyone – whether they are willing or not to say it out loud – knows it.
The way to cement public trust in our democratic system is for both parties, winner and loser, to come together to take what happened seriously. The next step should be a comprehensive and independent assessment, with the full support of the new president, what went well, what went wrong and what actions are needed to ensure that it does not happen again.
The idea that contesting the election results in the courts undermines democracy – or worse, is it betrayal? Seditious? Nonsense, and just another barrier to the unit.
In short, we will remain mired in unhealthy partisanship, unless and until both sides commit to ending it. President Trump must grant the election now – not because it was flawless, but simply because the nation must continue to operate while an in-depth investigation is conducted. Your team must actively support the transition and the GOP must reject any inclination to treat the next administration as it was treated.
Joe Biden should set an example – stop blaming and start working, repress constant criticism from his substitutes; open meaningful communication and access to the media. Most importantly, he himself should turn the page, as promised.
What should we all do? Be open to compromise, ignore the media chatter, hold our elected officials responsible for constructive and respectful behavior – and we will try to work on that mutual trust.
If we want healing, it is available. What a perfect Christmas gift to give each other!