America must unite as one nation

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To say that our country is going through difficult times right now is the understatement of the century. In a sight not seen since the War of 1812, the Capitol was hijacked by unlawful and violent rioters. Five lives were lost in the chaos, and the United States was shaken to its core.

Washington now looks more like a war zone than a cradle of democracy. As many as 25,000 National Guard members have been called to keep the peace. Not since the Civil War have our forces been sent to the Capitol. As someone who spent more than three decades with the National Guard, it is a sight I never thought I would see, and I hope I never do again.

Washington is on lockdown as our country is on edge. From elected officials to business leaders to the mainstream media, Americans are losing faith in institutions that govern our lives. That trust deficit is only growing. Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic takes an unimaginable human toll. The number of cases and deaths continue to reach record highs, ravaging our country and especially our communities of color.

Against this backdrop, Joe Biden is about to become our next president. The immediate agenda before him is daunting. A decade ago, he issued the oath of office swearing me into the Senate. He is a decent man with a good heart. We did not see eye to eye on every issue, but he has an open mind and works to find compromise. He knows how to disagree without being disagreeable, and he knows where to find common ground.

He does not have all the answers, and he does not pretend to. Last fall, he earned the most votes of any candidate for president in our history. Biden won the election fairly. All Americans, regardless of political party, should be pulling for him. His success is all of our collective success. The partisan fever has to break. The temperature needs to come down a few notches. A recent Axios Ipsos poll showed that around 80 percent of Americans, both Republicans and Democrats, believe that our country is falling apart.

During my time in public service, I have been privileged to wear many hats. My journey has taken me all around the world, from Beacon Hill to Capitol Hill to New Zealand and back again. I found myself among heads of states in fancy parliament buildings and weekend warriors competing in triathlons at the bottom of lakes. If there is one thing I learned, it is that we have more in common than we might realize. We are all human beings with similar hopes, dreams, and fears. Even living in New Zealand, almost 10,000 miles away, it was not hard to find some similar interests.

As our country starts a new chapter, let us all come together respectfully. We can learn a great deal from Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill, who came from different political parties but treated each other with decency and found common ground as individuals. The laundry list of challenges will not get better with angry social media posts or heated cable news hits. Now is the time to come together, as Americans, and move forward.

Scott Brown is the president and dean for New England Law in Boston. He served as a senator from Massachusetts and ambassador to New Zealand.

Tags America Culture Democracy Election Government Joe Biden Policy President

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