Unity, schmunity

The media is falsely accusing Joe Biden of turning his back on "unity" by refusing to hand over half his agenda, and the executive branch, to the Republicans.

Let this be the last time a Democratic calls for unity.

In his inaugural address, Joe Biden mentioned the word “unity” eight times. The media is now all down Biden’s throat, claiming that his Covid relief bill, and executive orders overturning Trump’s, do not promote “unity” because Republicans don’t like them.

I actually heard one TV journalist suggest that if Biden were really in favor of unity, he wouldn’t have overturned Trump’s executive orders.

Unity, to America’s media, means governing as a Republican.

So I went back to Biden’s inaugural address to see what exactly he promised when speaking of unity. Here’s an example:

History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity.
We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors.
We can treat each other with dignity and respect.
We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature.
For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.
No progress, only exhausting outrage.
No nation, only a state of chaos.
This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward.

Biden is talking about the country coming together as mature adults to soberly address the nation’s and world’s problems without animus or hyperbole. He was not suggesting that Democrats hand half the executive branch, and half their agenda, to Mitch McConnell.

Keep in mind that Biden’s inaugural language isn’t new. To the left’s eternal-consternation, Biden has always been about reaching across the aisle when you can. He’s very old-school Washington — in a good way — and doesn’t like the politics of demonization, whereby you ascribe ill-motives to your political opponents. Biden’s call for unity was a call to cool down the rhetoric, and try to focus more on the country’s problems rather than its politics.

What Biden did not mean by “unity” was that he was going to govern like a Republican, or permit the GOP to veto his entire agenda. And there’s the rub. You cannot have unity with someone who doesn’t wish it. It’s like being in a fist-fight and calling for a truce, but the other guy keeps punching you. Today’s media is blaming Biden for not unilaterally disarming and agreeing to be pummeled.

Consider the obvious. Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump — who still runs the Republican party — govern as autocrats. It’s how McConnell refused to confirm Obama’s judges, including famously stealing a Supreme Court seat, and how neither Trump nor McConnell worried about reaching across the aisle — or the polls — so long as they had enough Republican votes for passage. It’s also why Donald Trump won’t be convicted by the Senate in his impeachment trial. Autocrats never cede power, and never admit they’re wrong.

The Republican party is broken, and it’s caused (or at least exacerbated) some real cracks in our democracy. While the GOP represents a minority of Americans, they legislate as if they represent the majority, and routinely oppose popular proposals on health care, the environment, social issues and the economy. People like that don’t negotiate in good faith. And without good faith, there can be no unity.