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What is National Unity?

President-elect Joe Biden speaks during day two of laying out his plan on combating the coronavirus at the Queen theater January 15, 2021 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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January 22, 2021 10:02 a.m.

Republicans began by resorting to coups and even violent insurrections to overturn the 2020 election. Having failed at that they are now glomming on to Joe Biden’s focus on national ‘unity’ to insist that Democrats overturn it on their behalf by agreeing to the absurd proposition that unity means forgetting the 2020 election even happened. Most of us intuitively know that is a bad faith gambit. But it’s worth articulating what national unity means and does not.

Donald Trump, former President and current GOP leader, governed by making war on the so-called ‘blue states’. Supporters got cash and assistance, opponents got punished. This was a through-line from the first days of Trump’s presidency and the scope and consequences became more open and grotesque during the COVID pandemic.

Unity means governing on behalf of all Americans, not treating half the country like enemies. In the nature of things Biden’s vision of what to prioritize will match the platform he ran on. There are myriad particulars but in general more social spending, more focus on equity and social justice, renewed commitment to confronting the climate crisis. That is what happens when you win an election. That’s democracy, not divisiveness.

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