Checking out at the grocery store recently, I saw People magazine’s cover featuring Joe Biden and Kamala Harris with the headline “It’s Time for America to Unite.” And I thought to myself, “But do Americans want to be united?”
Sorry for the skepticism, but I had just come from lunch with a prominent Republican activist. We talked about the election and, coincidentally, I raised the issue of national unity under a new president. My friend emphatically said, “Republicans will never unite under Biden.”
I asked, “Who then?” He answered, “Trump in 2024.”
He may be right. Speaking as a longtime Republican, I believe the vast majority of Trump’s 73.5 million voters will not be supportive of the promise Biden made Nov. 7 during his first televised speech as president-elect: “I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but unify. Who doesn’t see red states or blue states, but only sees the United States.”
Unfortunately, that sounds like political “kumbaya” suited for carving into a stone wall at Biden’s future presidential library.
Don’t get me wrong. I love this nation and, for its sake, I wish Godspeed to the 46th president, but also understand the mentality of my party. In today’s kill-or-be-killed mega-polarized political climate, Biden might as well be talking to a stone wall because to many partisans, “unity” means surrender. At the very least, it means compromise, and compromise leads to fear that what Republicans hold dear will be whittled away.
Conversely, many Democrats feel the same.
Simplified and in general, the red vs. blue divide is as follows:
They stand for all that is good in America: religious freedom, law and order, the sanctity of life, school choice, conservative judges, Mom, apple pie, guns, God, the flag, minimum government interference, and no masks. They believe Democrats stand for socialism, open borders, unlimited immigration, and transgender cultural decline.
Republicans are white nationalists, afraid of losing power as the white population ages and shrinks in proportion to minorities. They believe Republicans want to turn back the clock to the 1950s when white men ruled; they are intolerable obstructionists to any progressive social views or movement that will better the nation. They are pro-coal, pro-oil, anti-anything that protects the environment. Republicans will blindly follow Trump off a cliff.
Democrats believe in economic equality for all, and that change must spring from the working class on up. Social justice and climate change must be among the highest priorities. Government spending solves most problems. They believe Democrats are the tolerant ones.
Substantiating this synopsis is a Pew Research Center statistical report headlined, “America is exceptional in the nature of its political divide.” Pew found that “both Trump and Biden supporters say that if the other wins, it would result in lasting harm to the country.”
Now irrelevant and long forgotten is President Ronald Reagan’s governing philosophy. In 1983, journalists accused him of “moving away from the policies and principles that got him elected.” Reagan replied, “I have always figured that a half a loaf is better than none, and I know that in the democratic process, you’re not going to always get everything you want.”
Ahh, ancient times. Today “all-or-none” is the preferred method guiding partisans’ democratic process. Half a loaf? Only if the loaf was made this morning in an “opportunity zone” at a non-union processing plant that grants workers time for prayer. (Or, from the other perspective, by workers who receive full health benefits, parental leave, and make at least $20 an hour.)
After talking with Trump voters, I can attest that there is no hope or desire for unity. This “stolen” election has brought only more anger and fear, motivating them to fight harder. As for Democrats, they want unity — but on their terms.
Therefore, where is there room for compromise? How can Biden pledge to be “a president who seeks not to divide” while governing a nation where fostering division is politically and financially profitable and ingrained as a way of life?
A subhead on that People magazine cover says, “The next president and his history-making Vice President promise healing — and get right to work. There is nothing we can’t do if we do it together.” But how is that possible when 52% of Republicans believe Trump “rightfully won” the election and 68% are concerned that the voting was “rigged,” according to a Reuters-Ipsos opinion poll released this week. A new Monmouth University poll found that 77% of Trump backers say Biden’s win was due to fraud.
Meanwhile, Trump has a supernatural, super-glue hold on his party. He will do everything in his power to keep power as he “rules” in exile from Mar-a-Lago. Although Trump won 47.2% of the vote compared to Biden’s 51%, losing is winning with the 45th president. After all, winning 73.6 million votes provides the bragging rights to say he won more votes than any Republican presidential candidate in history!
Moreover, Trump won 10.7 million more votes than he did in 2016, and 11.6 million more than the last Republican president to be reelected — George W. Bush in 2004. Trump won 7.7 million more votes than Obama in 2012, and all of these stats will be repeated ad nauseam over the coming months and years.
But to stage a “comeback,” the president has to stay in the public eye (think Trump TV) and continuously counter Biden’s lofty “unity” plans. We all know that Trump and his tweets will never go away until he is “sick of winning” (which is never). Even on Inauguration Day, if Trump does not attend, there will be media saturation about his absence. Why? Because he generates clicks and ratings, a media addiction. Plus, he’s guaranteed long-term attention by insinuating that he will run again in 2024.
Then imagine when he announces his plans for the Trump Hotel Presidential Library, Golf Resort & Spa. The biggest, greatest, and most lavish presidential vacation retreat in the world. It will even have a replica of the Trump Tower escalator that you can descend with a hologram of Trump and Melania! (Not sure I am joking about this.)
Circling back to the grocery store checkout line, millions of Americans will see the People cover touting that “It’s Time for Americans to Unite” — and 51% will applaud this effort. But suppose Biden’s attempt at unity fails. In that case, Democrats will be quick to blame Republicans’ intransigence while GOP leaders’ continue to fear Trump’s tweets, sure to chastise them if they favor compromises (half a loaf) to pass problem-solving legislation.
Nonetheless, in that grocery checkout line are 47.2% of Americans who voted for the president. Many (or most?) will see the same People cover and think, as my friend said aloud, “Republicans will never unite under Biden.”
Trump knows that is true and plans to keep it that way.