When Republicans say they want “unity” what they really mean is that Democrats must appease them and let them run the government, even after they’ve lost the election. This is what Mitch McConnell’s taking the Senate hostage over the organizing resolution to maintain his weapon of mass destruction, the Senate filibuster, was really all about.
Republicans also mean “please don’t do anything to upset our crazy base,” you know, the seditionists and violent insurrectionists in the Trump/QAnon cult who stormed the Capitol on January 6 seeking to assassinate House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and hang Vice President Pence to install their “Dear Leader” Donald Trump as dictator of the United States.
As I’ve said before, “The Sedition Party just tried to overturn the 2020 election, and incited an insurrection against the U.S. government in order to end American democracy and install Donald Trump as a dictator. There is no negotiating with terrorists.”
Trump/QAnon cult Republicans seriously believe that only they are entitled to govern, and everyone else is an “enemy” who must be destroyed. It is a quasi-religious cult. They really do believe that crap about GOP is an acronym for “God’s Own Party.”
The Times’ Jamelle Bouie explained in a recent column, Can Only Republicans Legitimately Win Elections? (excerpt):
Of the many stories to tell about American politics since the end of the Cold War, one of growing significance is how the Republican Party came to believe in its singular legitimacy as a political actor.
[I]t’s a story of escalation, from the relentless obstruction of the Gingrich era to the effort to impeach Bill Clinton to the attempt to nullify the presidency of Barack Obama and on to the struggle, however doomed, to keep Joe Biden from ever sitting in the White House as president. It also goes beyond national politics. In 2016, after a Democrat, Roy Cooper, defeated the Republican incumbent Pat McCrory for the governorship of North Carolina, the state’s Republican legislature promptly stripped the office of power and authority. Wisconsin Republicans did the same in 2018 after Tony Evers unseated Scott Walker in his bid for a third term. And Michigan Republicans took similar steps against another Democrat, Gretchen Whitmer, after her successful race for the governor’s mansion.
Considered in the context of a 30-year assault on the legitimacy of Democratic leaders and Democratic constituencies (of which Republican-led voter suppression is an important part), the present attempt to disrupt and derail the certification of electoral votes is but the next step, in which Republicans say, outright, that a Democrat has no right to hold power and try to make that reality. The next Democrat to win the White House — whether it’s Biden getting re-elected or someone else winning for the first time — will almost certainly face the same flood of accusations, challenges and lawsuits, on the same false grounds of “fraud.”
It’s worth emphasizing the bad faith and dishonesty on display here. At least 140 House Republicans say that they will vote against counting certain electoral votes on Wednesday. Among them are newly seated lawmakers in Georgia and Pennsylvania, two states whose votes are in contention. But the logic of their objection applies to them as well as Biden. If his state victories are potentially illegitimate, then so are theirs. Or take the charge, from Ted Cruz and 10 other Senate Republicans, that multiple key swing states changed (or even violated) their election laws in contravention of the Constitution. If it’s true for those cases, then it’s also true of Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, unilaterally expanded voting, however meagerly. And yet there’s no drive to cancel those results.
The issue for Republicans is not election integrity, it’s the fact that Democratic votes count at all.
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It’s hard to say how anyone can shatter this belief in the Republican Party’s singular right to govern. The most we can do, in this moment, is rebuke the attempt to overturn the election in as strong a manner as possible. If President Trump broke the law with his phone call to Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state of Georgia — in which he pressured Raffensperger to “find” votes on his behalf — then Trump should be pursued like any other citizen who attempted to subvert an election. He should be impeached as well, even if there’s only two weeks left in his term, and the lawmakers who support him should be censured and condemned.
There’s no guarantee that all this will hurt the Republican Party at the ballot box. But I think we’re past that. The question now is whether the events of the past two months will stand as precedent, a guide for those who might emulate Trump.
The door to overturning a presidential election is open. The rules — or at least a tortured, politically motivated reading of the rules — make it possible. Moreover, it is a simple reality of political systems that what can happen eventually will happen. It may not be in four years, it may not be in eight, but if the Republican Party continues along this path, it will run this play again. And there’s nothing to say it can’t work.
When Joe Biden says he wants “Unity” he means what reflects the majority view of Americans – Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and others – who support taking action on the serious issues confronting this country, not the anti-democratic seditionists in the Trump/QAnon cult who will obstruct everything, and who want to burn the country down. “Unity” means the majority view of public opinion, not “bipartisanship,” as Biden unfortunately uses interchangeably when he speaks about this topic. “You can take the man out of the Senate, but you can’t take the Senate out of the man,” so to speak. He “would prefer that legislation be bipartisan,” but is not required.
President Biden cleared up his semantics for lazy political reporters who have nothing better to do than write endless flak pieces for the GOP about “unity.” Jason Easley explains, Biden Makes It Clear That He Won’t Wait Around For Republicans On Unity:
While speaking to reporters, President Biden said that unity is not the same as bipartisanship, and he won’t be delayed by Republicans.
President Biden makes a great point. Unity is not the same thing as a bipartisan vote on legislation. pic.twitter.com/Nm8O05jXMz
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) January 25, 2021
The President said:
Unity is trying to reflect what the majority of the American people, Democrat, Republican and independent, think is within the fulcrum of what needs to be done to make their lives and the lives of the Americans better. If you look at the data — and you may correct me if I get the number wrong. 57, 58 of American people including Republicans, Democrats and independents think we have to do something about the covid-19, we have to do something about making sure that people that are hurting badly can’t eat, don’t have food, are in a position where they’re about to be thrown out of their apartments, being able to have an opportunity to get a job. That they always think we should be acting, we should be doing more.
Unity also is trying to get at a minimum, if you pass a piece of legislation that breaks down on party lines, but gets passed, doesn’t mean there wasn’t unity. It means it wasn’t bipartisan.
President Biden explained a very important point. If Republicans refuse to support legislation, it doesn’t mean that there is no unity. For example, over 90% of Americans support expanded gun background checks. Republicans in Congress do not. If Democrats pass and sign expanded background checks into law, it will be unified because almost all Americans support it.
Republicans have tried to weaponize Biden’s unity message against him, but they failed.
Unity is doing what the majority of Americans want, not catering to a few Republicans in Congress.
Now that that is cleared up, there can be no “unity” until there is accountability for sedition and insurrection. No justice, no peace.
UPDATE: Steve Benen adds, The nation needs two governing parties, and we’re one short (excerpts):
If you want to make Fox News appearances and repeat hollow talking points, the Republican Party is the place to be. If you want to govern, there’s “never been a worse time” to be a GOP official.
This is, of course, an issue of particular interest to me because I wrote a book last year on the Republican Party abandoning its role as a governing party, giving up on serious policymaking to instead become a post-policy party. The current political landscape suggests the thesis is relevant anew.
Looking at the nation’s capital, Democrats narrowly control Congress and the White House, and the party is exploring every possible avenue to advance its policy agenda. Democratic leaders have an ambitious to-do list, which they’re eager to act on through legislation and presidential executive actions.
As 2021 gets underway, conditions for Republicans appear … different.
Ideally, in the wake of election defeats that left the GOP without any access to the levers of federal power, party officials would be taking stock and exploring new ways to convince the electorate that Republicans deserve an opportunity to govern.
What GOP leaders are instead dealing with are adherents of crackpot conspiracy theories, members who appear a little too eager to bring firearms onto the House floor, lawmakers who believe subverting democracy is tolerable in pursuit of partisan goals, a party that’s wholly indifferent to the nation’s many substantive challenges, and the question of how best to avoid accountability for a former president who incited a deadly insurrectionist attack on his own country’s Capitol.
Our Madisonian model of government is dependent on stable political parties, eager to govern, engaging in serious debates about policymaking. It’s been the source of continuity in our democracy for centuries now.
In 2021, we appear to be one stable political party short.
Rachel Maddow noted on her show last night that Democrats, in addition to trying to govern, are also “trying to figure out how to get something done without having to deal with that dumpster fire on the other side, because how can that be your governing partner?”
That need not be a rhetorical question.
UPDATE 1/29/20: Princeton University professor Eddie Glaude says there is “no ground to have bipartisan relationships” with those who disregard our democratic principles to ensure historical power structures stay in place. “The Republican Party is the new Redeemers (during Reconstruction era). We have to describe them as they are and treat them as such. If they are willing to throw democracy away, there is no ground to have bipartisan relationships with them, there is no basis to compromise. Because if you do, you become complicit in undermining the very foundations of American democracy. Not only do they not agree with the facts, they do not agree with the very principles of democracy themselves. They don’t believe in who we are as a country.