After divisive election, how can America unite as one nation?
The 2020 election returns pretty clearly show a divided nation. As of Sunday, Donald Trump had nearly 71 million votes while Joe Biden had 75 million, a difference of under 3 percent.
In his speech after the networks called the election, Joe Biden said, “…Let’s give each other a chance. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric… To lower the temperature….To make progress, we must stop treating our opponents as our enemy. We are not enemies. We are Americans.”
Can we do that in the current political environment? How?
On the morning after the election, with the outcome still in question, my Republican husband and I sat down to breakfast together. As we discussed the close vote counts in Nevada, Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania, as well as the extreme differences in urban blue states and poor red states in the South, we made some wary predictions on the future of our country.
What a nail-biter this election turned out to be! Of course, eventually Biden/Harris emerged the winners, although the Senate majority has yet to be decided and will likely lean Republican. So the Democrats didn’t get the mandate they hoped for, and our country is almost evenly divided.
Where does that parity leave us? I think it gives us a rare opportunity to “take a breath.” In a country where neither party can “have it all their way,” we’re going to have to relearn the principle of working together (or if not, the American people will continue to suffer under government gridlock).
I know that in Utah, where we have four Republicans for every Democrat, conservatives don’t have to give liberals and even moderates much of what we want.
But nationwide, this is not the case. Initially, Congress and the administration will be focused on bringing the pandemic and the economy under control, approving Biden’s cabinet and learning to work together under the new dynamics of a president who is well-acquainted with the workings of the Senate. We can all hope that a new spirit of cooperation will emerge, as neither party now can completely dominate.
If you’re as exhausted by the acrimony in our country as I am, you might call Sens. Romney and Lee, and our state representatives, and ask them to play nice for a change.
Though I and most conservatives were and are disappointed with the outcome of the presidential election, I think most everyone, conservative or liberal, is glad it’s over. No more negative TV ads blaring night after night, no more robocalls and perhaps a dampening of the vitriol on Facebook will give us a chance to take a deep breath, lick our wounds and reflect on what just happened.
What happened was less than what might have. Biden won the election to be sure, but he failed to win a mandate. It’s doubtful the Democrats will win the Senate, which will prevent Democrats from acting as if they have a mandate. To be sure, there will still be liberals and conservatives but neither will be able to out-shout the other.
Perhaps in the blessed pause between now and when this all begins over again, both sides will relearn the meaning of three words: Civility, statesmanship and compromise.
Trump wasn’t the only loser in this election. Going down the drain is the credibility of American pollsters. Who in their right minds will ever believe another Quinnipiac poll?
Is there good that has come from this election? Half the country believes there is. Thirty-five-percent of Utahns believe there is. The rest of us have our doubts, but would like to be proven wrong.
With the election over, where does the nation go on policy? If the Republicans maintain control of the Senate, what are some areas where the two parties can and should cooperate, as Joe Biden called for in his speech last Saturday? What are areas where Republican are likely to block his agenda? Should they?
For starters, Biden’s administration and Congress will have to cooperate on filling the cabinet and passing another economic aid bill to address the COVID crisis.
I believe that most senators will prove to be pragmatists during the next couple of years; just as Republicans fell into line and changed their minds about appointing a new Supreme Court justice two weeks before the election, they will do what works and scramble for what they can get for their states and their party.
Politics is the “art of the possible.” If the Senate can strike a balance, and both Republicans and Democrats can get some of what they want, they may allow the other side to succeed as well.
Mitch McConnell, Senate majority leader, will be the most powerful Republican in our country now. His goal was to make Barack Obama a one-term President. He repeatedly blocked any legislation proposed by Democrats, and he held hundreds of federal judgeships open until Trump was elected in order to fill them with conservative judges. He sees this as his crowning achievement.
McConnell is aging—in spite of his denials, he is 78 and will be 84 before his term ends. Will he want to go out as the most obstructive senator in recent history, or will he decide to listen to his “better angels,” to use the term President-Elect Biden used in his speech following his election victory, and move in a more positive direction?
McConnell was born in Alabama and for the past 35 years has represented Kentucky, both of which were once part of the Confederacy. Before retiring from the Senate, will he have the grace to do something positive to quell racism in our country?
Over to you, Steve.
While I allow that Joe Biden may be inclined to a bit of pragmatism, his party is not so inclined; nor is his vice president in my opinion.
The biggest impediment remains she who currently holds the speaker’s gavel. Republicans regard Nancy Pelosi as dishonest and without scruples, up to and including concocting what many Republicans regard as a false impeachment of President Trump.
She has become a caricature for Republicans as much as McConnell has for Democrats. It is difficult to imagine her suddenly “getting religion” and becoming graciously accommodative.
I believe the only hope for accommodation and compromise hinges on the outcome of the two Georgia Senate races. If the Senate remains in Republican hands, Biden will be forced to compromise if he wants to get anything done.
If control flips, any thought of accommodation will go out the window and we’ll see statehood for Democrat-dominated D.C. and Puerto Rico, tax increases, relaxation of border controls, re-entry into the Iran nuclear deal, the loss of Taiwan, concession of the South China Sea as a Chinese lake, and much more that is repugnant to conservatives.
Sadly, I believe the best we can hope for during the next four years is a less-than-substantive change in the tone of the dialogue. The nation is still just as intellectually divided, but maybe the chatter will be a little easier on the ear.