“For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight,” Biden said. “I’ve lost a couple of times myself. But now, let’s give each other a chance.”
Consider the empathy and the vulnerability on display there. In Biden’s greatest moment of triumph — a moment five decades in the making — the President-elect took the time right at the top of his speech to remind people that he knows what losing elections feels like. (Biden lost his two previous presidential bids — in 1988 and 2008.)
Contrast that with the default stance of President Donald Trump: I always win — in everything. Losing is for losers. And I am definitely NOT a loser.
Which will matter to some not-insignificant chunk of people.
(And no, I am under no illusion that the most hardcore supporters of Trump will be moved by these words from Biden — or anything else. Why? Because Biden’s willingness to not only sympathize with those whose candidate didn’t win but to also ask them to give him a chance suggests that the era of viewing people with whom you disagree politically as evil is coming to an end.)
What Biden said next in his speech affirms that. Here it is:
“It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again. And to make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies. They are not our enemies. They are Americans. They are Americans.”
These are worldviews that are, quite literally, worlds apart. Trump actively worked to weaponize political division for his own gain. Biden is, at least at the start, trying to remind people of our common humanity. That Democrat, Republican or something else, we have a heck of a lot more in common than we have differences.
What do Biden’s words mean in terms of his legislative priorities? Or whether he will put a Republican in a prominent role in his Cabinet? Or how much he will consult with congressional Republicans? Not much!