Editorial: Biden must begin working with Republicans


The ISD Editorial Board argues that Biden needs to work with Republicans — most notably the Republicans already willing to work with him — to create lasting change in our country. 

Editorial Board

It hasn’t happened, and by the looks of it, it won’t happen, and that isn’t necessarily a good thing. It being Democrats working with Republicans to pass bipartisan legislation. With majorities in both the House and Senate and the use of budget reconciliation, Democrats can quickly and easily pass their COVID-19 relief bill.

Their bill, priced between the $900 billion and $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bills former President Donald Trump signed into law last year, comes in at $1.9 trillion. The bill carries a hefty price tag, but not so big as to scare off at least 10 Republican senators who have expressed intent to work with President Joe Biden and Democrats in securing bipartisan support for the relief bill.

These Senate Republicans have proposed a $600 billion bill that Democrats say doesn’t address a number of the needs of Americans at this time. It is yet to be seen if either side will make any concessions in order to secure bipartisan support, but that seems unlikely given the current political problem. That’s a problem.

To be clear, Democrats don’t need any Republican support to pass their bill, and if they don’t get any, they are willing to pass it along party lines in order to deliver what they consider to be necessary relief from the economic crisis brought about by the pandemic.

Is that change?

If President Biden and Democrats use the next four years to pass bills addressing assault weapons, criminal justice, health care, the environment, abortion, human rights, agriculture, immigration, infrastructure, trade or taxes, is that change?

It’s not. 

That’s not to say that Democrats shouldn’t pass those bills, especially if they believe it to be in the best interest of Americans. If that is the case, they should, regardless of bipartisan support. That is what their constituents elected them to do — especially in the midst of this global pandemic. 

But don’t mistake that for monumental change.

Change is lasting. It does not come and go with one political party or the other. Real change is made possible by consensus and will come about when Americans work together toward a common goal. While it can be easy and sometimes absolutely necessary to address the needs of Americans in the present, we can’t let that distract us from tackling bigger problems.

Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War. Excellent. Obviously that was the right thing to do and we are better as a country for having done it. But that didn’t solve racism. It didn’t change how half of the country felt about and treated Black people.

Taking action right now to address the present needs of Americans must be weighed against the impact it will have on the division in our country. It’s a cost-benefit analysis that must be performed on each bill Congress passes.

The challenges we face today are nothing new. America has gone through periods of increasing polarization and politicization. President Biden has the opportunity to leave a legacy as the president to begin healing those wounds — and this is the platform he ran on during his campaign for office. It will come at a cost to his agenda, but in the long term, it will do more good for America and Americans than most bills he passes in his first 100 days. 

A house divided cannot stand. There’s this delusion that America will remain the best country in the world despite our fractured nature. Great things do not come about or remain without hard work and dedication. Working with Republicans will be hard, and President Biden will have to make concessions that many of the people who voted for him will not like. This is not to say that Biden should set aside many problems that currently remain — the largest of which being those Republicans who continue to push the false “election fraud” narrative. 

But Biden should play the long game. He should work with Republicans to build consensus on certain issues and, more importantly, heal the divide across our nation. He must lead by example, reconciling any damaged relationships with fellow politicians and showing Americans that we are much stronger when we work toward common goals, not just those of a single political party.