The push for reconciliation and forgiveness in a divided nation

Forgiveness is not deserved, it is earned

Not+all+Trump+supporters+have+been+open+bigots%2C+and+not+all+have+attempted+voter+intimidation.+But+they+are+in+league+with+those+who+have%2C+and+silence+about+the+wrongdoings+of+your+allies+is+complicity.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Vecteezy%29

Not all Trump supporters have been open bigots, and not all have attempted voter intimidation. But they are in league with those who have, and silence about the wrongdoings of your allies is complicity. (Photo courtesy of Vecteezy)

Alexander Musa, Staff Writer

We’ve seen enough, it’s over, at least in the eyes of more than 78 million Americans. Joseph R. Biden is to be the 46th President of the United States, and Kamala Harris will be our first woman Vice-President. But for an extremely vocal contingent of 72.7 million Americans who supported the incumbent Donald Trump, the fight is not over yet.

In contrast to the naked Republican attempts to disenfranchise voters who did not support them, president elect Biden has struck a conciliatory tone.

“It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again,” Biden said during his Nov. 7 victory speech. “And to make progress we have to stop treating our opponents as enemies.”

If only it was so easy. It’s true that America is divided ideologically, in a way arguably not seen since the Civil War or the Civil Rights marches of the 1950s and 60s. What is also true is that reconciliation is not going to happen overnight. Reconciliation and forgiveness are not things to demand. They must be earned through concrete action.

Some Republicans aren’t interested in reconciliation just yet. According to a report from Bloomberg Law, Trump has already filed a slew of lawsuits in six different states to contest the election.

Meanwhile some key Republicans continue to close ranks around the neon god they’ve made. Sen. Ted Cruz said he believed there still existed a “path to victory,” even as he complained about the sheer number of mail in votes cast by Biden supporters. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy raged against the dying of the right on Fox News and Twitter over the weekend following the election, parroting Trump’s unfounded claims of voter fraud and subtly suggesting that only votes for Biden were somehow fraudulent.

Additionally, per a report from the New York Times, allies of President Trump have gone so far as to suggest that Republican-controlled state legislatures should tip the Electoral College in their favor by sending faithless electors to vote for Trump this December.

There has been some pushback from prominent Republicans, including Senator Mitt Romney and Senator Pat Toomey. But for the most part, the GOP has shown no real willingness to rid themselves of their reputation as the party of Trump. From the standpoint of actual governance, Biden will be hard pressed to convince Republicans in the House and Senate to fall in line.

Reconciliation with the average Trump supporter may prove to be even more difficult. Outside of the Clark County Election Department in Nevada on Nov. 5, Trump supporters called upon God and Jesus to defeat Joe Biden for them in the event votes weren’t enough. And in cities throughout the U.S., Trump supporters, some of whom were armed, gathered outside of offices where ballot counts were ongoing to urge a stop to the counts, claiming without evidence that fraudulent ballots were being counted.

If this behavior wasn’t part of an ongoing trend of extremist right-wing behavior aimed at demonizing anyone who hasn’t fallen in line, this would be a different opinion piece.

If, after 2016, conservatives hadn’t leaned heavily into the world of shouting “F- your feelings” at their declared enemies, I might believe in reconciliation and forgiveness. If many among them hadn’t decried every Democrat a “snowflake,” I would feel less inclined to mock them in return. If they hadn’t made excuses for spree-killers driven by anti-immigrant, anti-semetic, anti-LGBTQ+ or anti-muslim ideologies, I could potentially be convinced to not rub it in their faces that they lost the presidency.

If I didn’t see Trump supporters wearing t-shirts calling for the deaths of journalists like myself around the world, like this one,

then I might consider forgiveness.

If Republicans did not argue that black lives don’t matter, or shield those who do behind weak invocations of “free speech,” I could reconcile with them. If the founder of a hate group didn’t tell me that LGBTQ+ individuals were sub humans that did not deserve the rights I enjoy, but instead deserve to be exterminated or “cured” of their “condition,” I could seek reconciliation.

But this is not the real America of today. The real America is one where more than 72 million Americans looked at a man who lied about who would pay for a border wall facing Mexico, and they said in a collective voice “He speaks for me and my faith.”

They looked at a man who openly bragged about avoiding the draft for Vietnam, comparing dodging death and destruction in the jungles of South East Asia to dodging STDs from unprotected sex, and said “Yeah, that man is a patriot.”

As the president was forced to pay the legal fees of adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford over a dispute regarding hush-money payments over an illicit affair, Republican voters said “This man possesses a strong moral character.”

Republican voters looked at a man who openly lied about the severity of a pandemic that has killed more Americans than any flu since 1918, and said “Sign me up for more.”

That some among them have the gall to play the victim when they have embraced a platform based on political, racial, and religious division garners neither sympathy, nor forgiveness and reconciliation from me. We are far from from those things, and we will linger here together for years. It is the one thing we share in common beyond US citizenship.

There is much for Republicans, be they politicians or the average voter, to reckon with and apologize for. There are wrongs they must admit to. If they wish so badly to be heard as fellow Americans, they must reach out and do the same for the 78 million who stood in opposition to them on Nov. 3. They must remember that we too are fellow Americans.

Until then, votes don’t care about their feelings. All votes matter.