It’s over. The reality show presidency has been cancelled. Trump is leaving as a sore loser, never admitting defeat or wishing the incoming president well. He’s on his way to Florida where he will live out his days railing against his enemies, fending off lawsuits, and trying to keep his loyal base engaged.
As Biden takes office, today really does feel like a page is turning. Biden invited Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Kevin McCarthy to attend church with him before the inauguration. He’s offering an olive branch before a new government convenes. Biden is clearly making an effort to return to normal governance.
Mitch McConnell seems ready to start anew, too. Yesterday, he laid the blame for the Capitol assault on Trump and “other powerful people.” He said, “The mob was fed lies,” admitting that the voter fraud conspiracy was bunk. He may have been late, but at least it’s a new beginning.
Biden wants desperately to unify the country. He’s reached out to Republicans and his rhetoric is inclusive. He’s focused on governing, not headlines or making controversial statements. He has no illusions about the differences he will face with the GOP leadership in Congress, but believes he can make government function more normally. We should all give this new government a chance.
Biden still faces a problem with the GOP base and the conservative propaganda network that will try to make him fail. Polls show that two-thirds of Republicans believe the election was stolen and that Biden is an illegitimate president. Fox News fired its most serious political news team and will try to compete with the conspiracy theories on Newsmax and AON. They are not interested in a functioning government or moving past conspiracy theories. They want headlines that drive clicks and dollars.
Biden will begin his tenure as the fourth consecutive president to take office under suspicion of illegitimacy. Back in 2001, George W. Bush was sworn-in after losing the popular vote and after the Supreme Court declared him the winner in Florida. When Barack Obama took office, a majority of Republicans believed that he was born in another country and when he left office, almost three-quarters of Republicans questioned Obama’s citizenship. Trump took office under the cloud of the Russia investigation and most Democrats believed he was elected with help from the Russians. And Biden, of course, is fighting the false narrative that the election was stolen through voter fraud. Maybe the next president will get a better shake.
I want to give this new government a chance. While I believe we need to hold Trump and those who attacked the Capitol accountable, we should assume that the leadership in Congress is acting in good faith until they show us otherwise. I think McConnell has been damaging to the institution of the Senate and to the country as a whole, but I also think that, right now, he wants to move past the Trump era. He has a huge fight on his hands to try to save the Republican Party from the Trumpists and yesterday he fired a shot. One way to salvage the party is to show results that attract conservative-leaning centrists while holding the line with traditional conservative values.
I don’t believe in too much bipartisanship. Our system is meant for conflict. But I do believe we can make government function better than it has and I believe a broad section of the country wants that to happen. Let’s give it a chance.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >