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Biden's unique opportunity: End the political civil war

Biden's unique opportunity: End the political civil war
© AP/Pool

President BidenJoe BidenHouse panel approves bill to set up commission on reparations Democrats to offer bill to expand Supreme Court Former Israeli prime minister advises Iran to 'cool down' amid nuclear threats MORE enters office with two unique opportunities — first, to reunify the nation, and second, to guide us through the post-pandemic recovery.  

In his inaugural address, Biden promised to be a president to all the people, even those who supported President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump mocks Murkowski, Cheney election chances Race debate grips Congress US reentry to Paris agreement adds momentum to cities' sustainability efforts MORE. Lovely words, but he has a narrow window of opportunity to turn them into action. It’s not enough for Biden to tell the people who didn’t vote for him to lay aside their differences; he has to say it to his own people, too.

Many Biden supporters are braying for blood and vengeance against Donald Trump, his administration and his voters; if they are unleashed, they will only further divide the nation. An impeachment trial is already on the agenda in the Senate. Some in the Democratic Party-friendly media and among the social-media titans are advocating censorship to silence conservative voices. Others are compiling blacklists, while still others insist Trump’s supporters must be “deprogrammed.” A few are even insisting that cable services stop carrying conservative news stations altogether.

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President Biden needs to tell those people to stand down. They cannot seek vengeance against half the American population. Nor can they expect that half the population will get on their knees and beg forgiveness for the sin of supporting Trump. It’s hard to think that these people, myself included, can have our faith in American democracy if we are censored, discriminated against, castigated and punished — all for expressing our rights.

President Biden also has a unique opportunity to capitalize on the groundwork laid by the Trump presidency, especially in ending the pandemic and restoring the economy. If he can build on Trump’s policies, he can rightfully claim credit for their success.  

We now have in hand everything we need to end the pandemic: vaccines, cures, public awareness. Trump’s public/private cooperation forged in Operation Warp Speed has given us what no one believed possible — and did so years ahead of schedule. 

Today the American economy is poised for an historic rebound. We’ve been cooped up for a year, and people are champing at the bit to restart their lives — getting kids back to school,  parents back to work, and everyone back to restaurants, shops or sporting events. Once the pandemic subsides, all the government needs to do is get out of the way and allow the American people to do the rest. Trump proved that the triad of regulatory reform, tax cuts and energy independence guarantees economic prosperity for all.

Finally, Americans are weary of this political civil war. Both sides have their grievances, and they’re substantial. But we’re all exhausted and demoralized by the constant fighting. We all want this to end, so we can move on. But that means we all have to allow our grievances to remain in the past. For that to happen, President Biden must stand up to the radicals in his party and tell them to stand down. 

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Hopefully, former President Trump will stand up to his base and tell them to stand down, too.

Joe Biden, by temperament and experience, has the ability to be the man for this moment and to seize this narrow window of opportunity. If not, the Biden presidency is doomed from the start, destined to be riven by division, chaos and dysfunction.

Trump’s behavior in the past few weeks was abominable. After the election, he did have the right to pursue every legal avenue to challenge the election results. But we are a nation of laws — and once those avenues were exhausted, he should have stood down gracefully. It is a tragedy that Trump’s extraordinary achievements in domestic, economic and foreign policy are, at least for now, overshadowed by the events of the past few weeks. I suspect, however, that over the years, when journalists give way to historians, Trump will fare better than he does today.

I did not vote for Joe Biden, and I fear his economic and foreign policies will not succeed. But he is my president, and his successes are America’s successes. I wish him well.  

KT McFarland held national security posts in the Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Trump administrations. She is the author of the new book, “Revolution: Trump, Washington and ‘We the People’.” Follow her on Twitter @realKTMcFarland.