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Talking Unity While Playing With Fire

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Just after the media declared him the presumptive president-elect of the United States, Democrat Joe Biden invoked the Old Testament in an inspiring speech about unifying the divided nation that he has served for half a century:


"To make progress, we must stop treating our opponents as our enemy. We are not enemies. We are Americans. The Bible tells us that to everything there is a season -- a time to build, a time to reap, a time to sow. And a time to heal.

"This is the time to heal in America."

He hit many grace notes. He's very good at this sort of thing, which is why Democratic Party leaders -- and Wall Street -- wanted Biden at the top of the ticket to face President Donald Trump.

But words without deeds are simply words. Without action, they're quite dry.

And if Biden, Democratic Party politicians and their legions of media supporters were actually serious about "healing" rather than using the Bible as a tool to dominate opposition, there is a way:

Join in the call for more vetting of election irregularities raised by Trump and other members of his party, and voters. Trump's lawsuits claiming irregularities in certain counties in Pennsylvania and Michigan should get a full hearing. Stop threatening those Americans who dare question the evenhandedness of the election.

Open it all, in the courts, like some clam for America to see.

Because only then will we be able to move on.

Have faith in the American people to respect the outcome. Trust them. There have been volumes of dry, silky political speeches about the wisdom of the people. Most are only good for tinder.


I was born in Chicago and have spent my life covering its politics and know there is no such thing as a perfectly clean election. The Chicago of the fictional mob boss Johnny Rocco, who counted the votes again and again until they turned out right, and the real Chicago of the political machine where vote fraud became an art form, snickered at as a mark of perverse civic pride.

To have the courts alter the as-yet-uncertified outcome, Trump's lawyers must bring actual evidence and prove that what he's bringing aren't just a few wild anecdotes. That's a high bar, and I don't think he can meet it. There isn't widespread evidence of vote fraud that would change this election.

But I don't tell Americans to shut up about anything. And I don't think mocking, shaming or threatening them into silence is a good prescription for healing.

We've just had the highest turnout ever for an election, and it's still not settled. The coronavirus pandemic prompted many states to institute new and more accessible mail-in ballots for the first time, including Illinois. This was an election that requires more examination on how it went. More than 140 million Americans cast ballots.

What's disturbing is to see political and media elites threatening or mocking some 70 million Americans into silence about this. That's playing with fire.

Want somebody to blame for the heated temperature? Fine, blame Trump for undermining election integrity by shouting wildly, without evidence, even before the election was over, that it was being stolen. And blame Biden for insisting the only way he could lose was through "chicanery" at the polls.


Blame the left for concerns about violence from shopkeepers who boarded up their stores in downtowns across America. Blame all those who insisted there would be no problem with massive mail-in voting in states that were new to the practice.

Blame those who demand the other side be silent or face punishment.

But don't blame voters.

The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin tweeted: "Any R now promoting rejection of an election or calling to not to follow the will of voters or making baseless allegations of fraud should never serve in office, join a corporate board, find a faculty position or be accepted into 'polite' society. We have a list."

During the long contested presidential election between Al Gore and George Bush in 2000, which wasn't decided for 35 days, the media cry was about respecting the process.

But now? Now it's "we have a list."

That's how fire starts, ignited by words. Then it burns everything it can touch. It doesn't care who said what. It just burns.

Prominent journalist Jake Tapper, a former Democratic staffer and now CNN anchor, put it this way and he didn't rely on Ecclesiastes.

"I truly sympathize with those dealing with losing -- it's not easy -- but at a certain point one has to think not only about what's best for the nation (peaceful transfer of power) but how any future employers might see your character defined during adversity."


In other words, shut up, we have a list.

So many of us are riven by tribalism that the only thing that matters now for tens of millions of us is dominating the other side. But is that a prescription for healing?

Or is it only a road map to continue what's been going on in America since Trump won his election in 2016, when his transition to power was fought by bipartisan Washington opposition, when tens of millions who voted for him were kicked to the margins of society by the same voices now demanding they shut their mouths?

Is continuing down that path again the best thing for the nation?

Or would pursuing the matter in the courts, where each side presents their best evidence subject to the rule of law, not the rule of men, be the best thing?

It's your country.

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