Since winning the election, President-Elect Joe Biden has continued urging his supporters to find “common ground” with racist, deplorable sore-loser conservatives as part of his valiant, exhausting personal and political crusade to “save the soul of the nation.”
That’s been his battle cry for uniting the nation since the first day of his campaign. But the right has made it clear that they aren’t interested in unity or understanding. Instead, they are doubling down on the vitriol that’s taken America to the brink in the first place. Just look at Kyle Rittenhouse, who’s being celebrated by many on the right for shooting three protesters, two of them fatally, at a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The teen posted a $2 million bond this weekend, covered by Trump supporters including the MyPillow guy who have hailed him as a hero and paid into the #FightBack Foundation created by his conservative lawyers to solicit donations on his behalf. Think about that: While Biden is calling on his supporters, including the vast majority of Black people in America, to get along with their political foes, those foes are making it very clear they don’t give a damn about Black lives or political unity.
Conservative talking head Ann Coulter tweeted that she wanted Rittenhouse as her president, Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson described him on-air as a “patriot;,” and Florida state Rep. Anthony Sabatini this weekend tweeted, “KYLE RITTENHOUSE FOR CONGRESS.” While not every Republican is cheering, I can’t think of a single major figure in the party who’s said a single critical word about a teenager who shot three unarmed people at a protest.
Meantime, Rittenhouse’s attorney L. Lin Wood is also one of the lunatics who filed a lawsuit in Georgia trying to stop election officials from certifying Biden’s historic win in the state, and has tweeted about the QAnon-tied conspiracy theory claiming, without evidence, that a voting system somehow stole the election for Biden.
So progressives are still being asked to find common ground with conservatives who are backing a killer kid who’s now a cult hero of white supremacists and whose lawyer is actively working to undermine our democracy. How is any of this OK? Seriously, how in the fuck should anyone be expected to find common ground with people who don’t respect out laws, our votes or our lives?
“This is not who we are,” Biden has said constantly on the campaign trail when discussing the current political madness. “America is better than this.”
No, Joe. This is exactly who America is, and it’s clear that many of the people you keep extending the benefit of the doubt to are the worst of America.
Historically, Black people have always been at the forefront of pushing for common ground and nonviolence (read up on the Civil Rights Movement if you forgot). I’ve grown up being taught to seek light in darkness, to go high when they go low. But they keep going lower and terrorizing us, not only men like Rittenhouse but a Republican Party unwilling to condemn him and even actively supporting him as it remains committed to politicizing such violence for its political agenda.
It’s hard for me to watch lawmakers supposedly elected to improve my life try to normalize this shit, to hear moderate liberals reduce these life-and-death distinctions to a simple matter of “different views” and passive-aggressive conservatives remain silent as outright aggressive conservatives praise him.
For Biden to expect any American with dignity to remain optimistic and open to dialogue with conservatives cheering the people who shoot us is worse than gaslighting—it’s political masochism. Calls for unity can only be effective if the other side is actually making an effort to walk away from the white supremacy that emboldens them and to actively put decency and dignity before hate. Until then, it’s all just platitudes.