Biden’s Call for Unity Met With Extremism

These first few days of the Biden era have been a disappointing confirmation of just how radicalized the modern Republican Party has become. Consider:

There has been no party wide embrace of the legitimacy of the election, and thus the legitimacy of Biden’s Presidency — Despite everything that has happened in recent weeks, the Republican Party and its leaders have done almost nothing to distance themselves from the Big Lie about the election outcome being illegitimate. While Senator McConnell has called on Republicans to accept the election results, House Minority Leader McCarthy hasn’t; there is no organized effort for those who told the Big Lie to renounce it; no Republican group or leader who has participated in the insurrection has been disciplined. Senator Paul was spent his time on ABC News yesterday repeating the Big Lie.

How can Joe Biden be expected to work cooperatively with a Party which believes, falsely, that he is an usurper and shouldn’t be there? Our collective expectation as a society now has to be for the Republicans to make it clear that they were wrong about the election; that it was legitimate; and that the power the Democrats hold in Washington was legitimately earned, not stolen.

Mitch McConnell is preventing Democrats from taking over the Senate — In what may be among the extraordinary illiberal acts of these deeply illiberal era, Mitch McConnell is refusing to allow Democrats to seat their new Senators in the various Senate Committees, which leaves Republicans still in charge of the Committees and thus the legislative process. There is no possible justification for this, and is another sign of how far the Republicans have to travel to become a conventional center-right party which respects democratic norms and the rule of law.

No pledge of support to work with Biden on any issue, including defeating COVID — Finally, where is the praise of Biden’s agenda, his speech, the clear excellence of his early transition planning despite COVID, compromised government information systems, the insurrection and degraded security environment? Where is the GOP olive branch on any issue, particularly on dealing with the incredibly reckless mis-management of the pandemic? Why haven’t, for the good of our nation in such a challenging time, Republicans offered a single thing they could work on with Biden? Let the Democrats actually be in charge of the Senate? Do away with the doubts about the legitimacy of the election?

Is it possible for the Republicans to have done less to show their commitment to the general welfare these past few weeks than they’ve done? Hundreds of Members of Congress participated in an effort to overthrow the election results, an effort which resulted in violence and death. They have refused to renounce their support of an active insurgency. They have refused to turn the Senate over to the Democrats, and slowwalked his early Cabinet choices, even in the areas dealing with domestic security. There has been no olive branch, no call for bi-partisanship, no issue identified as any area of potential cooperation.

Instead we still see and hear leading Republicans on national television this weekend using the “radical” language which helped bring violence to the Capitol a few weeks ago — the election wasn’t legitimate, we need to investigate what went wrong, Biden is embracing a dangerous “Radical Left” agenda and actually not doing anything to reach out to Republicans…….

Really? Fixing our broken COVID strategy, creating an economic package which will help struggling families, moving an immigration bill similar to one which has passed a Republican-led Senate twice in the past 14 years, rejoining a global climate agreement which has literally every other country in the world in it isn’t reaching out and is far left? This whole charade has both become both so predictable and so tiresome.

Early polling suggests Biden is uniting the country, even if Washington Republicans have been slow to embrace the new President. Some results from a new ABC Ipsos poll:

Mask wearing on federal property 81–17

Rejoin the WHO — 70–28

Biden Handling of COVID — 69–29

Rejoin the Paris Climate Accords — 65–34

Reauthorize DACA — 65–33

Trump has left the GOP a radicalized, illiberal party, and unfortunately, that radicalization has been very much on display these past few weeks. For America to have unity, or even just good governance, a major project must be undertaken to deradicalize the GOP, and help it return to a center-right party recognizable to a modern democracy. Acknowledging the legitimacy of the election and allowing Democrats to take over the Senate now would be reasonable first steps on the GOP’s post-Trump journey. Let us hope that’s what we see in the coming days.

I run NDN/NPI, a DC think tank. Clinton & DNC alum, Tufts grad, Aspen Crown Fellow. Father of 3 great kids, truly lucky husband. Proud globalist.

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