Sorry, it does not work that way. Healing requires accountability and remorse from those who attacked our democracy, stormed the Capitol (or incited, funded or supported the mob) and set out to overthrow our democracy. The culprits do not get to set the timeline for reconciliation before they can be held responsible for their participation in an attempted coup.
Lots of things would be unifying or provide healing. Let’s start with these:
- The House and Senate could unanimously affirm there was no irregularity or fraud in the election that would have changed the outcome of the presidential vote one iota.
- The House could impeach Trump, and the Senate could come back in session to hold a trial and remove him swiftly.
- House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who pulled his caucus over the cliff in the desperate hope to maintain the Big Lie and cater to Trump, could resign.
- A combination of Democrats and all Republicans who voted to certify the electoral college results in the House and Senate could expel or censure members who objected to certification. As my colleague Michael Scherer writes, “The central question now hovering over America’s political landscape is whether one of its two major parties will allow itself to function as an extension of QAnon and other online conspiracy theory movements that have taken hold with a vocal segment of the GOP, or if it can emerge from the Trump era as a potential governing coalition built around ideas and some shared agreement on facts.” This action would help settle that question.
- Corporate donors could permanently cut off support for anyone who objected to the electoral votes, an attack on our democracy.
- Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms could volunteer to make entirely transparent how they “curate content” and how their “algorithms decide what speech to amplify,” as Yaël Eisenstat, a former Facebook executive, suggests. We should find out how they “nudge users towards the content that will keep them engaged ... [and] connect users to hate groups, who recommend conspiracy theorists.” The companies could also agree to follow the guidelines recommended by the Stop Hate for Profit campaign headed by the Anti-Defamation League and major corporate advertisers.
- A nonpartisan commission could determine the extent to which state and federal law enforcement has been infiltrated by adherents of violent extremist groups. (The Post reports, “At least two U.S. Capitol Police officers have been suspended and more than a dozen others are under investigation for suspected involvement with or inappropriate support for the Wednesday demonstration that turned into a deadly riot at the Capitol, according to two congressional officials briefed on the developments.”)
- Right-wing media outlets, pundits, talk-show personalities and TV hosts who perpetrated the lie that there was widespread election fraud could retract their statements and affirm there is no factual basis for these assertions.
- The voters in the 18 states whose attorneys general filed a brief to throw out other states’ electoral votes could recall or vote out these officials.
That should be enough to get us started. Beyond that, there are many good ideas for enhancing civics education, media literacy and access to voting on a permanent basis (e.g., pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act; make available universal, secure voting by mail). You can never have too much healing.
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