I come to you today with a high dose of anxiety and reality. We’re now ten days away from the most consequential election in modern times, and I cannot say how this thing will turn out in any uncertain terms.
Over the past several months, Jill and I have tried to give you facts and opinions about why this election is so important – first, with Discord & Dissension, and now with America’s Wakeup Call. We’ve talked about the critical issues facing us, as well as the differences between the two candidates.
Whether it’s climate change, the federal judiciary, problems with voting, or how we’re viewed in the world, to name a few, we think we’ve made a compelling case that Joe Biden is the right choice – the only option – on November 3, 2020.
But as this will be my last post for our project before the election, there’s something else about Joe Biden that we must discuss. It’s not about any particular issue or any legislative proposal. Nor is it about whether he’s more qualified than the current president (he is).
It’s about whether Joe Biden is the right man to unify the country. And perhaps more than any other issue we’ve talked about, it might be the most challenging thing to do if he assumes office on January 20, 2021. Because damn it, folks, we’re as divided as I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.
You’d have to go back to the 1960s to see anything close. Maybe those days were worse when you think about it. We lost three icons to assassinations. Our military was involved in a bloody war in Southeast Asia that took hundreds of GI’s per day at its height. Our cities were burning, our campuses were a hotbed of protest and resistance, and it seemed as though we’d never survive it all as a country.
But somehow, we’re still here. We did survive, albeit damaged and bloodied. Our Constitution, always a work in progress, has kept us going through tumultuous times. A flawed document, to be sure, yet it’s stood the test of time – until now.
We have a president in office who has no regard for that document, nor does he abide by any of the norms most previous presidents have adhered to since the beginning. And while divisions were present before he took office, he’s done nothing but make them so much worse. The division is his elixir; unification is his kryptonite.
One of Biden’s main narratives throughout this campaign has been that we are currently in a battle for the nation’s soul. I could not agree more. He said that when he saw the current president praise ‘both sides’ during the Neo-Nazi march at Charlottesville, he knew he had to answer the call. There was no excuse for the kind of bull-horn racial animosity spewed by the United States’ sitting president.
And now here he is, on the cusp of possibly becoming the 46th president of the United States, at a time when even wearing a mask to protect others during a dangerous and unrelenting pandemic has become a political football. What will Biden do to heal and unify the country if he wins the election?
Based on the countless endorsements from current Republicans, former Republicans, and independents, it’s pretty straightforward how he will attempt to unify us. And one thing for sure is that it’s going to upset a few people on the left.
There’s so much bad blood between the political parties today. Some on the left say we’ve played nice for way too long. It’s time to start fighting as the Republicans do. I, for one, am very sympathetic to this view. On many occasions in this space, I’ve said how disappointing Democrats have been trying to play by rules while the other side plays to win.
But I’m also pragmatic about how things work in Washington, D.C. Biden knows the inner-workings of D.C. politics perhaps better than anyone, as he’s been a part of it for 47 years. And it’s why I think he’s well-suited to use that experience to his advantage.
Just yesterday, it came out that he’d consider adding someone like former Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich to his administration. Of course, it’s nothing new, as Barack Obama and many other presidents have chosen rivals and people from the other side of the aisle to work in their cabinets. It’s a show of unity and a willingness to hear different viewpoints.
I do not doubt that Biden will attempt to do the same. Some on Twitter yesterday were not pleased that he would go down this road. Others, though, were entirely receptive to the idea. It’s a delicate balance he will have to navigate. We should give him the leeway and space to do what he thinks is necessary to move us forward.
I also believe he’ll reach out to current Republicans, especially in the Senate, where he spent 36 years to gauge their support for specific legislation pieces. I’m thinking of Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, and maybe even Rob Portman of Ohio. It’s worth a shot, if nothing else, to show the American people he’s willing to do whatever it takes to heal the immense divisions we face and get things done for a change.
My friends, I fully expect Biden to do some things I may disagree with. There will be times we’ll all feel frustrated if he doesn’t hold as firm to progressive values as we’d like. But we have to give him a chance, do we not? People are dying as we speak due to the inaction and incompetence of the current president. Many more are drifting into poverty and hopelessness. We’ve got to let him try and navigate these troubled waters.
Of course, he cannot continue to court the other side if they do nothing but smack his hand in response. After all, it’s what Republicans did to Obama, led by the grim reaper Mitch McConnell himself. There may come a time where the filibuster becomes a relic of the past. I hope it doesn’t have to go to that, but it’s certainly an option Biden must consider if he gets nowhere with a recalcitrant rival political party.
Biden will cross that bridge if and when he comes to it. For now, if elected and sworn in on January 20, 2021, unification must be one of the first things on his list. We’re a nation at each others’ throats. It seems like we’re so far apart on some days, common ground is nothing but a pipe dream.
But if anyone can bridge the divide, it most certainly is Joe Biden. He’s not as disliked, generally, as Hillary Clinton was in 2016. Indeed, most of that was a result of the right-wing media’s constant and unrelenting pursuit of looking under every rock, nook, and cranny for anything that even looked like a scandal – not to mention the despicable misogyny.
Biden simply doesn’t have that kind of baggage, though. His favorable ratings are far better than Clinton’s were at this time of the campaign in 2016 and will serve him well if he manages to win. It’s called political capital, and I, for one, hope he’s able to use it to his advantage.
So here we are on the eve of our national wake-up call. We’ve divided along so many lines: rural vs. urban; Black vs. White; Republican vs. Democrat; pro-mask vs. anti-mask. You name it; we cannot agree on much of anything.
We need a unifying figure, not a man who’s spent the last four years exploiting our divisions. We need a good and decent man – not a self-centered pathological liar who spits on the Constitution and exhibits a reckless disregard for human life.
Joe Biden is that unifying figure – I’m convinced of that. He’ll reach across the aisle whenever he can, and there might be a few senators willing to go along. However, I’ll reserve judgment on the Republican Party depending upon how they do in the upcoming election.
If they’re soundly and overwhelmingly defeated, I hope that they will look inside their souls and see what a pathetic and rudderless ship they’ve become. If they can do that, enough of them, that is, they will have a willing partner in Joe Biden. If not, they’ll continue to be an irrelevant political party that can only cheat their way to power.
We’ve seen so many Republicans, other than the current Congress members, reject Trump-ism to the fullest extent. People like Cindy McCain, Colin Powell, John Kasich, and others have endorsed Joe Biden. Some progressives don’t like it. I, for one, think it’s a good thing.
These people have chosen to be Americans first. They want unity over division, decency over inhumanity, and competence over disarray and chaos. For that, we should all be grateful.
If Biden wins, I have no doubt he’ll use that sort of goodwill to his advantage. The only question is whether the Republican Party’s elected leaders are willing to meet him halfway.
So do I think Joe Biden is the right guy to unify our country? Absolutely. I want to believe the rest of America will come to the same conclusion. If not, the soul of this country may be lost for a generation. We cannot let that happen.