If Republicans want to talk about reconciliation, there is a minimum price of entry: a straightforward, unequivocal acknowledgment that the election was not rigged and that Mr. Biden won the vote fair and square. Mr. Trump is attempting to make the 2020 election a 21st-century Lost Cause, entrenching the myth that malicious forces subverted American democracy to install Mr. Biden against the will of the voters. It is this lie that Mr. Trump fed his supporters before telling them to march to the Capitol and show “strength” — and that he continued to feed them in tweets even during the raid. It is the same lie that Mr. McCarthy, Mr. Cruz and a startling number of Republicans fueled as they twisted what should have been a rubber-stamp electoral vote counting process into a forum for overturning a clean election and a locus for the mob’s anger.
Some other Republicans and right-wing commentators have argued that there is little difference between what Republicans have done since last November and what Democrats did following Mr. Trump’s 2016 victory. It would follow, they suggest, that Mr. Biden and the Democrats should make the first moves toward reconciliation by standing down from impeachment. This is unhinged. Democrats immediately acknowledged Mr. Trump’s win. There was a broad factual basis for the Russia investigation that followed. Democrats did not paint American democracy as so hopelessly corrupted as to convince a massive chunk of the country that the 2016 election was stolen and inspire a violent attack on the Capitol. Only Republicans are guilty of escalating the nation’s partisan warfare to such a sad place. Now that the consequences of their dishonest campaign are becoming clear, it is on them to begin the reconciliation process — by telling the truth.
Mr. Biden spent much of his presidential campaign reaching out to Republicans, taking considerable flak from his left for it. Republicans responded by trying to discredit an election he won, with tragic consequences. Healing begins by recognizing the facts and saying these words: Mr. Biden won, fair and square.