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Healing our nation — a tough proposition

By: Jack Bernard 

“The President has never spoken to the country; he’s only spoken to his base.” Former Chief of Staff, Gen. Kelly (CNN) 

For over a hundred years, our nation has had two political parties. But up until the last few decades there was a lot of policy overlap and people attempted to work together for the good of the nation. 

The FDR Democrats were liberal. The Dixiecrat George Wallace supporters in the South were not. 

The Senator Barry Goldwater Republicans were very conservative. But Northern Republicans like Senator Jacob Javits of NY were much more liberal than the average Democrat. Javits even introduced a Medicare for All bill. 

Much of that changed with Nixon’s Southern Strategy. Nixon decided to play to white racism to move the Southern states into the GOP column. It worked, but virtually all of New England eventually left the GOP. And, because of negative reaction to Trump, now the West is going to the Democrats. Due to changing demographics, Texas will soon be in play (as is Georgia from now on). 

Due to Trump’s strategy of playing to his base and no one else, division and conflict have risen tremendously over the last four years. For example, most Americans (54%) believe that Biden won the election. However, because of Trump’s lies which are reinforced by obviously biased right wing media, 88% of Trump voters still do not. According to 60% of Americans, the election was conducted fairly and accurately. But only 22% of Republicans feel this way 

(https://www.monmouth.edu/polling-institute/documents/monmouthpoll_us_111820.pdf/). That is why Trump was able to motivate his supporters to come to Washington. That’s also why he was able to talk them into marching on and violently attacking our nation’s beloved Capital, killing and injuring law enforcement officers. 

General Kelly has said Trump “is a laughingstock now” (1-7-20, Jake Tapper), which is true due to his post-election antics. However, during his reign, Trump showed himself to be an out-of-control authoritarian using fascist tactics. But he still got over 70 million Americans to vote for him. And the increasingly radical and hysterical ravings of the out-going President have made things much worse for in-coming President Biden who is finding it hard to secure the national unity he desires. 

Before the inauguration, the easiest way to get rid of Trump as a political force in the GOP would have been to remove him under the 25th Amendment, via showing incapacity (not technically difficult). Under that Amendment, Pence and the majority of the cabinet would have voted to remove him. However, it did not surprise me at all that Transportation Sec. Chao was the first cabinet member to resign, indicating to me that there never was any possibility of removing him from office under the Amendment.  

Chao, married to savvy Mitch McConnell, would not have resigned if she thought that would happen or that McConnell favored that approach. And this fact has major implications for the “conviction” phase of the impeachment trial. If McConnell would not support Pence taking over, why would he vote to convict Trump now that he’s gone? 

Yes, Nancy Pelosi has impeached Trump again, the first time a President has been impeached twice. But 95% of the House Republicans still voted against impeachment, including Minority Leader McCarthy, despite overwhelming evidence of incitement that we all observed. 

Of course, it’s past time for Senator McConnell and others in GOP leadership to finally show some political courage, clearly denounce his attacks on our democracy and vote to convict him. But I doubt that will happen given recent statements from key GOP Senators and the failure of McConnell to use his substantial leverage to get votes for conviction. Although 17 GOP votes are needed, I would be amazed if more than a handful vote for it, proving the GOP is still the ReTrumpican Party. 

Biden is a middle of the road moderate. Claims that the far right controls his agenda are clearly easily disprovable lies. However, with the damage that Trump has already done to our institutions…and the way that he has completely brainwashed his followers, per surveys…it remains to be seen whether or not Biden can ever bring our torn nation together.