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At long last, the day has finally come: Jan. 20, the end of the long night that was the Trump administration. And now that the nightmare is over, perhaps we can finally look to the dawn of a new era in politics.
Or maybe not.
If you have been paying attention to politics at all in the last year or so, you no doubt know that Joe Biden, who was sworn in on Wednesday as the 46th president of the United States, has been stubbornly relentless in his calls for unity. And in short, his fervent desire for unity in a post-Trump era is certainly admirable. But I am left wondering, what does unity look like in a Biden administration? Is it even a realistic dream after four years of Donald Trump?
I am not so sure. After all, we are talking about the GOP here. This is the same party who infamously obstructed President Barack Obama’s agenda whenever and wherever possible, particularly in the last two years of his term. This is the same party that, under then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s guidance, kept a Supreme Court seat vacant for the better part of a year, claiming that “the American people should have a voice.”
But when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died just over a month before the election last year, the GOP under McConnell denied Americans that “voice”, and chose to confirm Justice Amy Coney Barrett as her replacement in a matter of weeks. And for me, there went the last shred of credibility for the GOP.
Because this is the same party that, when given the opportunity to oppose dearest Trump, instead opted to follow his deranged and xenophobic agenda wholeheartedly, no matter the damage. Sure, there were a few who dissented here and there, but they overwhelmingly stayed in line with their party. How courageous of them.
Unsurprisingly, this is also the same party that started us down this path of hyper-polarization back in the 1990s under Newt Gingrich. Since then, the temperature has risen steadily but consistently, reaching its boiling point just two weeks ago on Jan. 6.
And despite this, Biden has given the GOP a most incredible choice: to abandon their current path of chaos and hyper-polarization in the name of unity or to reject Biden’s offer and press on.
But what exactly does Biden hope to accomplish with his promise of unity? Clearly, he would like to see an end to hyper-polarization. But should the GOP agree to work together in the name of unity, we cannot possibly expect the GOP to do it in good faith. To do so would be recklessly ignorant of their conduct during the last four years.
Because after all, is the GOP more likely to revert to their old ways – aka, Obama-era obstructionism – or are they more likely to revert to a more traditional agenda that includes bipartisanship? Given the incendiary rhetoric of the last four years and well, everything else, I suspect that the days of traditional bipartisanship are long gone.
And although some republicans have been “calling for unity” in the aftermath of the insurrection and impeachment proceedings, what were they doing before extremists stormed the Capitol? You guessed it, remaining silent or promoting the conspiracy theory of the month.
Apparently, according to the GOP, we should only come together when convenient for them. In other words, after they’ve lost control of all three branches of government and their extremist supporters have failed to storm the Capitol. How persuasive.
All things considered, Biden’s desire for unity raises another important question: Why? Did the Democratic Party promote baseless conspiracy theories about republican candidates? Was there some scheme designed by democrats to kidnap a governor? Did they promote baseless claims about election fraud for months? Or did far-left extremists, at the behest of Democratic leadership, storm the Capitol to overturn election results?
Oh right, they didn’t do any of these things. But despite this, Biden is the one calling for unity. Should the party so routinely attacked and vilified by Trump and his supporters be the one to offer the metaphorical olive branch? Should it not be those at fault for not stymieing the fanaticism when it began? Or at any point over the last four years?
Make no mistake, Biden’s offer of unity is certainly a genuine one. But will the GOP accept it in good faith?
All in all, I think the last four years have given us enough hints about what we can expect from the GOP going forward. While I sincerely hope that a “return to normalcy” is actually possible, and not some fever dream of an aging moderate, oblivious to the writing on the wall, only time will tell.