According to some articles, what many people want to see from President Biden (and did during the past four years as well) is unity in government. No more hate, no more anger, no more Twitter rants. And that applies to us too: Biden voters should be reaching out and sympathizing with Trump voters. We need to show empathy — didn’t we feel just like this in 2016? Give them time to process their emotions and move on. To which I say, dude, WTF?
This is not at all equivalent to 2016: we were pissed and horrified, sure (and the past four years have shown we were right to be) but nobody doubted Trump had won, however hinky his route to the White House. We were not sitting there insisting he wasn’t a real president and that Clinton had actually gotten the electoral voes. Republicans are in denial and being nice to them probably won’t help (no. not even if Biden pardoned Trump). And I don’t recall anyone at the time saying that Republicans should reach out and be sympathetic (not that they’d have listened). Heck, if you’ll remember, a lot of us Democrats were anticipating a Congressional landslide instead of Biden facing (probably) a Republican dominated Senate where Moscow Mitch will deep six every Biden initiative he can. Shouldn’t Trump voters be sympathizing with us.
I understand that many Trump voters are shocked they lost — didn’t Pat Robertson and other evangelicals prophesy for God that Trump would win? And they’re convinced that evil has triumphed. But they’re wrong. All that happened was that they lost an election. Republicans will have a shot — better than they should — at recovering the White House in four years. In that time, Biden and Harris will not destroy America, lock up Christians or turn their kids over to a Satanist pedophile cult that drinks children’s blood. Our fears that Trump would be anti-gay, misogynist, anti-immigrant, racist and generally incompetent turned out justified.
I think this is another version of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ axiom, that “white racial grievance enjoys automatic credibility.” Trump supporters’ suffering has to be taken seriously in a way the more diverse liberal wing doesn’t. That said, I can understand the desire for unity but how do we reach that with millions of voters embracing QAnon or white supremacy (or both) or willing to tolerate them? Or insisting the Trump Virus isn’t real even as they die from it.
The truth is we’ve never really been a united country. We weren’t united under slavery: slaves and masters were not on the same page, nor were slave-owners and abolitionists. Nor in WW II, despite the image of everyone pulling together to fight the Axis. Some American businesses traded with Germany throughout the war; some people preferred Hitler to FDR. The government shipped Japanese-American citizens to concentration camps and sent 2,000 citizens to Japan in exchange for American POWs. The Army was segregated and soldiers stationed in the south had to abide by Jim Crow laws. Gay sex and interracial marriage were illegal. As soon as the war was over, the government and big business snatched the jobs women had taken in the war away from them.
As Martin Luther King said, what we hadn’t wasn’t unity but a “period when the Negro was complacently adjusted to segregation, discrimination, insult, and exploitation.” Ditto women. Ditto gays. It looked united because society managed to contain protests and pushbacks and keep things relatively stable. But the fissures were there. As King said, we can’t get from the “old negative obnoxious peace which is merely the absence of tension” to “a positive, lasting peace, which is the presence of brotherhood and justice” without tension and disunity. And we have to make that shift to survive and recover from the failed state we seem to be turning into. Brotherhood and justice require equality; that’s hard to achieve when a large chunk of this country wants to roll back the achievements of Selma, Stonewall and Seneca Falls.
So yeah, unity’s nice, but there’s going to be a lot of tension first. And we can’t run away from it.
But as proof that sometimes good guys win one, LGM thinks the Affordable Care Act will survive the Supreme Court. And Trump’s “bring back the gold standard” pick for Federal Reserve couldn’t get confirmed in the Senate.
It’s a start.