In the aftermath of President-Elect Biden fulfilling his oft cited campaign promise to beat Trump “like a drum” in the 2020 election, there has been an outpouring of rhetoric from the political middle for unity — a term which has grown increasingly difficult to be uttered unsarcastically in recent years of American political life. Biden himself has thus far stayed true to his desire to “lower the temperature” amidst appointments of qualified, long time civil servants to cabinet positions (doesn’t that just give you goosebumps?) and his recent Thanksgiving address in which he called for Americans “to put away the harsh rhetoric” and “give each other a chance.”
These calls to action are responsible, prudent action in this brutally polarized time. To call it responsible and prudent sounds like rather bland praise, but in juxtaposition to our current president’s brand of reckless authoritarianism, it’s actually the most deeply adoring praise I can write. Yet as the glow gradually fades from the realization we have finally restored a person who actually takes the custodianship of our democracy seriously, we are left with a profoundly difficult question posed to each of us as individuals: How do we “give each other a chance”?
Centrists in both parties have made their strategy clear through a steady deluge of op-eds calling for Biden to act during these crisis stricken times with restraint and bipartisanship — a strategy which may sound familiar to anyone who has ever attempted to put out a raging fire with an empty fire extinguisher. Progressives receive this refrain with a groan, describing the notion that a potential McConnell led Senate will be even mildly cooperative as laughable and casting an eye back to what they deem as the failures of the Obama administration in its various legislative compromises: failures which eventually led to the efficacy of Trump’s nativist, populist message in 2016.