In the same week a majority of Republican members of Congress joined President Trump's efforts to overturn the presidential election, the incoming Biden administration announced a plan to create a position to find common ground with conservatives.
Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond, who has been named a senior adviser and director of the Office of Public Engagement for the president-elect, shared the unbelievable news last week during the Wall Street Journal's CEO Council as reported by Bloomberg.
"Right now I'm trying to set up the office and I'm actually looking at establishing a position that reaches out to conservatives — because it's about moving forward," Richmond said. "We cannot stay where we are."
Richmond added that he would work to "create a demand in the country to make politicians work across the aisle and to work together."
Hold your laughter for the apparent compromise: infrastructure. "The famous words are, there's no such thing as a Democratic bridge or a Republican bridge," Richmond noted.
Republicans won't even agree to help stop the mass death, pain, and suffering Americans are facing from the unrelenting COVID-19 pandemic. So I have a hard time believing they can be convinced to get excited about working on some bipartisan bridges any time in the near future. But it's clear that Joe Biden is committed to the promise he made in his victory speech after becoming president-elect.
"I will work to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify," Biden proclaimed. "I won't see red states and blue states, I will always see the United States." As for Trump supporters, Biden asked "let's give each other a chance."
As cute as that line was when then-senatorial candidate Barack Obama first said it so many years ago, it's time for it to be retired. Obama sold that dream and the country responded with our current nightmare — one that, if left to the actions of most elected Republicans, would never end.
In the weeks that have followed Biden's promise, GOP leadership rejected a resolution declaring Biden as the president-elect. (If you recall, they spent the entire election calling him a "socialist" while relentlessly attacking his son.) As for those Trump voters, only a quarter of Republicans recently polled accept the election results.
It is fairly apparent that there will be no u-n-i-t-y in this country, yet Richmond announced this implausible position anyway.
Days after he did, more than 120 of the 196 Republican members of the House of Representatives signed their names to an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit filed by the Texas attorney general that sought to overturn Joe Biden's victory in the presidential election and keep Donald Trump in office for a second term. Among them was House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. When initially asked if he supported the lawsuit, McCarthy wouldn't answer, but colleagues later claimed that he was left off the original filing due to a "clerical error." This is someone who wants to be the next Speaker of the House, and in order to do so, he must appease Dear Leader's cult. Yet, McCarthy is the same person who recently attacked Nancy Pelosi, saying, "Her power is more important than anything else."
Joining McCarthy was House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, who defended his support for the suit Sunday in an interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace. When asked, "Do you feel comfortable throwing out millions of votes of your fellow Americans?," Scalise claimed "nobody wants any votes thrown out." Wallace interrupted to point out the obvious: "That's what the lawsuit would have done, sir!"
Scalise would not answer directly if he would accept Biden as the president-elect, only saying, "Let's let this legal process play itself out."
These attempts to pervert democracy are shocking, but not necessarily surprising. Republicans have never shown much respect for democracy. Ask Black voters, and more recently, anyone trying to vote by mail in a swing state. Republicans have long won elections by suppressing the vote, but they keep upping the ante on their trickery. Twenty years ago it was the Supreme Court stopping the recounts in Florida, and this year it was purposely sabotaging the U.S. Postal Service during a pandemic. When that still isn't enough, Trump and the party base he controls now say screw the vote altogether.
It is not hyperbolic to say that the opposition party of the president-elect is actively trafficking in seditious language. Nor is it wrong to worry that some of Trump's most extreme supporters, namely The Proud Boys, are ready to answer Trump's debate call as evidenced by the group roaming the streets of D.C. over the weekend in search of a fight. They will follow the lead of Trump, who himself declared on Fox News that he won't stop contesting the election.
Their efforts will fail, as the Supreme Court summarily rejected the Texas lawsuit and Joe Biden has now been certified as the winner by the Electoral College, but the point remains: We are in so much more trouble right now.
I don't expect Joe Biden to fan the flames by cursing out Trump, his supporters, and the GOP writ large. However, as much as Joe Biden longs for the days of "civility" and compromise, his goals ought to shift from unity and compromise with Republicans to salvaging whatever semblance of democracy America has left in spite of them. "I'm confident that on the things that affect the national security and the fundamental economic necessity to keep people employed, to get people employed, to bring the economy back, there's plenty of room we can work," Biden said in a recent interview.
There are many ways to go about such pursuits. Trying to find common cause with those who no longer believe in democracy at all is a waste of words, time, office space, and our tax dollars.