The blueprint for Joe Biden fixing our politics and Mitt Romney saving the GOP
After Oklahoma City, Bill Clinton salvaged his presidency by condemning extremism and reassuring Americans
Our system enshrines Jan. 6 as the day when members of Congress gather and perform the ceremonial function of counting the previously certified votes of the electoral college and announcing the winner of the presidential election — a shining model for fledgling democracies everywhere.
Instead, on Wednesday the world witnessed an attempted insurrection by an angry mob that stormed and sacked the Capitol, threatened the lives of the nation’s elected officials, killed a Capitol police officer and disrespected our democratic norms.
The implications are grave. The mob was motivated by lies — lies perpetuated by the conservative media ecosystem, by self-serving politicians like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), and most of all by the egotistical demagogue in the White House who has incessantly refused to accept the results of the most transparent election in American history.
These lies will continue to fester unless our elected leaders, both Democratic and Republican, break the pattern that has crippled our politics for far longer than four years.
It is tempting to cynically assume that they won’t. Best case, President-elect Joe Biden will assume power and Republicans will pick up where they left off when Barack Obama occupied the White House, pursuing a scorched-earth policy of resisting the president at every turn.
But historically, crises produce moments of great opportunity. And millions of Americans who watched the horrifying images on television are looking for elected leaders to offer plausible explanations and constructive solutions.
In April 1995, Americans experienced a similar moment when white power and anti-government terrorists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols detonated 4,800 pounds of explosives in front of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, including 19 children. How President Bill Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) responded to the tragedy during a moment of intense partisan division offers a lesson for redirecting our politics today.