Despite Having Met Republicans, Biden Still Thinks They Will Work With Him Post-Trump

Illustration for article titled Despite Having Met Republicans, Biden Still Thinks They Will Work With Him Post-Trump
Photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP (Getty Images)

Following the Electoral College’s Monday night vote certifying Biden’s victory, the president-elect reiterated a campaign promise that Republicans will change their ways and be eager to work with him one he takes office.

Biden renewed this pledge on a video call with grassroots supporters on Monday night, according to Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Epstein, when he reported that a handful of Republican senators had reached out to him to acknowledge the certification of his victory. One of them, he said, was “one of the most senior members” of the party, a top senator who said they were willing to work with the president-elect on foreign policy and infrastructure.

Biden said it may take six to eight months to get the rest of the party on board, but that it would happen no doubt.

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“I predict to you, and I may eat these words, I predict you as Donald Trump’s shadow fades away, you’re going to see an awful lot of change,” Biden said on the call. “You’re going to be surprised.”

Oh, I think we’ll be surprised.

This sort of sentiment may be even more alarming now than it was on the campaign trail, particularly given the Republican Party’s decision to stand by Trump as he contests the election results. Biden first made such a claim in May 2019, on the heels of his announcement that he was joining the Democratic primary race.

“I just think there is a way ... the thing that will fundamentally change things is with Donald Trump out of the White House—not a joke—you will see an epiphany occur among many of my Republican friends,” Biden said at a New Hampshire campaign stop. “It’s already beginning in the House now ... If we can’t change, we’re in trouble. This nation cannot function without generating consensus. It can’t do it.”

Biden’s campaign message has always been about healing: healing our political polarization, returning the country to “normalcy” post-Trump, and restoring “the soul of the nation” (whatever that means). But Biden might consider what happens if Republicans don’t want to reach across the aisle or come to the negotiating table in good faith (because when have they ever)?

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And what if—and it is a big if—Biden is right? What issues are Democrats going to be willing to compromise on, and who will suffer the costs of those compromises?

Night blogger at Jezebel with writing at The Baffler, The Nation, Vice, Gothamist, The Awl, and more.

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DISCUSSION

I don’t think there’s any harm with making rhetorical moves like this, as long as he 1) understands that there are things that he just cannot compromise on and 2) doesn’t put too much faith in the decency, honesty, or goodwill of the GOP. Personally, I think he’s almost certainly wrong, and that Republicans will do everything they can to try to make him fail, even if that means hurting the country in the process.