Republicans have had no shortage of opportunities for bipartisanship. They could have immediately recognized Biden as the winner — not let the Big Lie that the election was stolen fester. They could have declined to object to any electoral votes. They could have voted to impeach, convict and disqualify the disgraced insurrectionist in chief from holding future office.
Republicans could have begun confirmation hearings ahead of the inauguration to ensure Biden at least had national security and health-care teams in place on Day One. They could have swiftly approved the slew of highly qualified nominees and avoided savaging Neera Tanden, Biden’s nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget, for tweets that were mild compared to the language they tolerated from their cult leader for years. (Portman was infamous for saying he had not read or heard the former president’s tweets.)
And if Republicans were interested in bipartisanship, they could have put forth a real counteroffer for a covid-19 rescue bill to elicit a response from the White House, not a puny proposal a third the size of Biden’s package. They would have taken into account the overwhelming public support among voters for Biden’s plan (76 percent in the Politico/Morning Consult poll, including an astounding 60 percent of Republicans). And they could have resisted whipping a vote they were certain to lose so as to deny the president any bipartisan support.
The vast majority of Republicans did none of those things. Nearly all elected Republicans refused to denounce the Big Lie. All but seven Senate Republicans voted to acquit the former president after House impeachment managers decimated any legal defenses and laid out an airtight factual case.
Included in their sins of omission is their utter refusal to police their own. Nearly all House Republicans voted to keep Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who had spread conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook shooting, on the House education committee. They welcome the disgraced ex-president to CPAC. With the exception of Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), they have not condemned the ludicrous antics from Kremlin mouthpiece Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) at a hearing on the Jan. 6 attack, during which he purported to question if the members of the mob carrying Trump signs and shouting his slogans were disguised as his supporters.
In every way imaginable, Republicans have declared themselves as not only unwilling to meet Biden on popular, urgent matters but also unwilling to put aside the lies and conspiracy theories. Instead, they genuflect to the disgraced former president. Imagine Southern lawmakers still honoring Jefferson Davis after the Confederacy’s defeat. They would be shunned and labeled traitors.
Republicans have zero — none, nada — ground to stand on in complaining about bipartisanship. They have shown scant sign they are interested in that sort of politics. Perhaps they should start with more fundamental values: Decency and honesty. Both are in short supply.