In his inaugural address, President Joe Biden spoke about the country healing and coming together, and the resilience of the American spirit. He acknowledged the challenges the U.S. faces, including climate change, racial injustice and the COVID-19 pandemic. The new president’s address was optimistic but not realistic. “Unity” is a nice thought. But the country doesn’t need a nice thought. The U.S. needs real change and compromise isn’t going to get us there.
According to a survey by the Washington Post and YouGov, over 70% of Republican voters believe the 2020 Presidential election was fraudulent. Democrats in Congress seeking common ground with Republican members who believe a conspiracy theory about Biden’s election is a waste of time. Congressional Democrats and the Biden administration need to focus on pushing progressive policy that will make a significant difference in people’s lives, not trying to make Republicans happy.
The Republican Party has lost its credibility over the last 4 years. The party supported former President Donald Trump’s extreme rhetoric and policy that encouraged far-right extremism, including the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. It’s ridiculous to seek unity with the same party that allowed over 400,000 people to die from COVID-19 because of its petty refusal to mandate masks and make a coherent plan to deal with a global pandemic. The Republican Party can no longer separate itself from Trumpism after enthusiastically supporting and defending it for so long.
Settling for unity maintains the status quo. Nothing significant happens under compromise. Eras of real change happened because of aggressive policy focused on improvement like the Progressive Era, FDR’s policy during the Great Depression and WWII, the Civil Rights Era and even Reagan’s sweeping changes during his presidency. Change doesn’t happen with timid politicians trying to be friends. It happens with bold action. It’s time the Democratic Party stops trying to find middle ground and takes action.
Biden stated in his address, “Hear me clearly: disagreement must not lead to disunion.” The divides in this country are more than “disagreements.” Black Americans asking not to be brutalized by police is not a “disagreement.” The greed of pharmaceutical companies versus those who can’t afford life-saving medication is not a “disagreement.” Future generations left to clean up a planet destroyed by billion-dollar corporations is not a “disagreement.” The divides the U.S. faces are more than “disagreements:” they are serious problems deeply ingrained into American society.
Democrats should still reach out to Republican voters on a local level. It’s important to talk to neighbors on the other side, especially in rural areas like Watauga County. Canvassing and being involved in communities is where change starts. Conservative voters should not be pushed aside and forgotten under a Biden Administration. Representatives should build bridges with their constituents regardless of party. But politicians in D.C. are there to do a job. Democrats need to do the job they were elected to do, establish policy to fix issues that have profound impacts on American’s daily lives, including climate change, racial injustice, lack of affordable healthcare, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Representatives are there to make change, not make friends.