After four years of hyper-partisanship, we have a rare window of opportunity this January to come together, heal our nation, and govern for all of America — not just one party. The question is: will we choose civility, or squander the moment?
It's infuriating to see members, from both parties, retreating to their respective corners. Some in the far left wing of my own party have declared, in almost an anti- Biden manner, that “we're always messaging around bipartisanship,” and that “we need to have an unapologetic agenda,” instead of “trying to play to the notions of civility.” Some in the other party remain doggedly unwilling to accept the results of the elections, insisting that there are “fake votes” and widespread “fraud and abuse.”
The good news for many of us who long for civility and bipartisan governing is that Joe Biden will be our next president. He has spent his career as a uniter. In fact, on the night they called the race, the President-elect inspirationally declared that this “is the time to heal in America,” and pledged to be a President to represent even those who hadn't voted for him. With an open hand, not a clenched fist, he insisted, “It's time to put away the harsh rhetoric. To lower the temperature. To see each other again. To listen to each other again.”
“We are not enemies,” he declared. “We are Americans.”
I couldn't agree more. If we just take a collective breath, we would remember that we are Americans and, as our history shows, there is nothing we can't accomplish when we work together. It's how we got out of the Great Depression; won our great wars and the Cold War; and fought the war on terror. And it's how we will truly beat the pandemic and get our economy going again.
In short, it's time we turned the page on the back-biting, midnight tweets, extremist policies, and the all-or-nothing approach to governing that has dragged us down these last years. That's what stymied the latest Covid-19 stimulus package, which Americans desperately need. It's what has stood in the way of other policies with broad bipartisan support like infrastructure investment and health care.
But, here's the reality of where we are today: As hard as many of us will work to win both Senate seats in Georgia, there is a chance that President-elect Biden will face a divided government, with a slim majority in both chambers. So, if we want to get anything done, and help solve our nation's problems, it will take both sides coming to the table with their respective willingness to find compromise. We have to get out of the business of passing legislation with support from only one party; bills are always improved with bipartisan involvement and support.
It can be done. I co-chair the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans. We come together every day with one simple mission: to find areas of common ground. Yes, we have our policy differences. But we also recognize that if we actually work together and put country over party, there are plenty of areas of agreement. We also work closely with a bipartisan group of senators. From Covid-19 relief to tax cuts to criminal justice reform, our record of accomplishments is long, and we are eager to play a key role helping bridge the divides in the coming months. I'm choosing to be optimistic and betting that Congress can pass a much-needed Covid stimulus package, enact immigration reform, strengthen health care and environmental protections, and get infrastructure done.
I get it won't be easy to reverse course. There's a large industry built around partisan bickering. I get that is what some in both parties have been doing even since the election. They believe that these food fights will keep them relevant.
But, we know, empirically, that the extremist messaging isn't what delivered President-elect Biden the White House, or what helped us keep a majority of the 30 Democrats in the House who represent Trump districts like mine. Americans knew that Biden would help heal our nation and bring us back together, as he so often has.
We don't need to spend the next weeks relitigating all of this, or fighting within the parties. Instead, the best way for all of us — Democrats and Republicans — to deliver for our constituents is simply to do our jobs and govern. Let's focus on beating Covid-19, passing an infrastructure package, addressing racial justice and immigration and strengthening health care. We can do it if we come together and stand together as Americans.