OPINION: We are only guaranteed four years of the Biden-Harris administration. It seems unwise to waste time humiliating our losing opponents.
In the Book of Matthew, Jesus instructs his disciples to “turn the other cheek.” President-elect Joe Biden, a devout Catholic, is asking liberals to follow the words of Christ as he promotes post-election national healing.
In her poem Resolution #1003, poet June Jordan advocated for a different approach than the one offered by Jesus, writing, “I will hate who hates me … and I will be nobody’s fool.” Naturally, many progressives are more inclined to act on the words of Ms. Jordan.
Conservatives have been our tormentors for four years and justice seems to demand that conservatives endure a comparable measure of discomfort during the Biden-Harris administration. Still, pragmatism, not any moral obligation, demands that we attempt the national healing president-elect Biden is calling for.
Many progressives feel they are morally and intellectually superior to Trump’s base of non-college educated white voters. Even with this collective brilliance, some progressives do not see the benefit of waiting for President-elect Biden to secure his cabinet before they begin to humiliate our Republican opponents.
In January, there will be an election in Georgia that will determine which party will control the Senate. Biden’s future cabinet appointments and judicial nominees depend on a Democratic-controlled Senate. Without a Democratic majority in the Senate, the progressive agenda is going to be a lot less progressive.
Georgia is a traditionally Republican state. We should not scare off potential voters in Georgia by being insufferable winners. If the Democratic candidates do not win both Georgia Senate races, let’s just say … yikes. This predicament and common sense should lead most politically agile advocates to play it cool until control of the Senate is settled.
Yet many liberals want catharsis.
Politics is not religion; it cannot offer us tingly feelings and assurances that evildoers will be punished. At its best, politics offers us the opportunity to enact policies that can improve our lives and the lives of fellow citizens.
In the novel Submission, the incendiary French writer Michel Houellebecq astutely describes transitions of power in Western Democracies:
“When I was young the elections could not have been less interesting…A center-left candidate would be elected, serve one or two terms…When people got tired of the candidate, and the center-left in general, we’d witness the phenomenon of democratic change, and the voters would install a candidate of the center-right. Western nations took a strange pride in this system, though it amounted to little more than a power-sharing deal between rival gangs…”
Houellebecq’s assessment is as discomforting as it is accurate. The electorate is fickle and our political system is always in flux. For those of us who are progressives, the Biden-Harris administration is an opportunity to undo much of the damage caused by the Trump presidency. We are only guaranteed four years of the Biden-Harris administration. It seems unwise to waste any amount of time humiliating our losing opponents.
Conservatives know that we won. We spent an entire Saturday honking our horns, banging pots, and rejoicing in the streets of major cities across America after CNN announced Biden was president-elect. As progressives, we pride ourselves on our embrace of reason, facts, and science. We position ourselves in opposition to the part of the electorate which screams “fake news” when met with the truth.
We should embrace the national healing proposed by president-elect Biden because it makes sense to do so. We will not be acting out of largesse or goodwill but out of self-preservation.
We cannot afford to turn-off any potential voters in Georgia. We also have to prepare for the reality that we may have to spend four years negotiating with a Republican-controlled Senate. In either scenario, we do not gain anything substantive by acting on our rage and resentment. We should turn the other cheek, for now.
Brandon Hicks is a writer and activist. He serves as Director of African American Affairs for the Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo. He is a former National Organizer for National Action Network, a civil rights organization founded by Rev. Al Sharpton. His opinions are his own.
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