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EDITORIAL: Nation's division challenges all to work toward consensus

EDITORIAL: Nation's division challenges all to work toward consensus

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A friend of ours who voted for President Trump on Tuesday casually acknowledged Thursday that his man had almost certainly lost the presidential election and that the president should accept the will of the people rather than desperately seeking to challenge election results in court. He suggested the divided representation in the House of Representatives and Senate, with Republicans holding the latter chamber, would be enough to keep any excesses by Democratic President Joe Biden and his team in check. We don’t know how widespread such sentiments are, but surely it’s an indication that many of us are weary of the long, drawn-out election battle that Trump literally began the day he was inaugurated as president.

Let’s face it. Election 2020 has given almost all Americans something to fume about or lament. Democrats fell for polls that again proved overly optimistic in terms of any landslide win of the White House and taking control of the Republican-run Senate. Those who backed the president’s bid must be crestfallen as well; the president seems to have lost the popular vote again, just as he did in 2016, except this time the Electoral College map has had his Democratic challenger in the lead ever since polls closed. Yet, as our friend suggested Thursday morning, divided government is all right if it curtails extremism in either party. It’s even preferable so long as one party doesn’t fall into outright obstruction as a strategy. Then selfless governance such as the Founders envisioned slides into failure.

If the election results show Biden winning, Democrats must realize nearly half of our nation refused to repudiate Trump not because they’re racist (and many are decidedly not) or they lack humanity (many were repulsed by Trump’s border policies that incarcerated desperate immigrant women and children in kennels; some Trump disciples such as Waco’s Rev. Ramiro Peña pressed administration officials to reverse course). As longtime conservative George Will told Gerald F. Seib in the latter’s “We Should Have Seen It Coming: From Reagan to Trump — a Front-Row Seat to a Political Revolution,” conventional Republican and Democratic policies such as free trade ultimately left everyday workers with few dividends while further enriching the wealthy. Trump appealed to these masses, even if his policies of tariffs and tax cuts failed to match his populist, common-man shtick.

Although re-elected Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas won’t win honors for political courage in standing up to the president’s worst excesses over the past four years, he is still ranked as one of the most bipartisan lawmakers in working with Democrats on meaningful legislation. While this newspaper would argue against anyone’s suggestion that the Republican Senate displayed robust leadership in building consensus prior to the Trump administration — petulant obstruction is a better description — Cornyn and other Republicans in both chambers now have a chance to do better. Problems ranging from climate change to police reform to voting rights to health care to deficit-spending (the latter an issue Republicans only seem to care about when Democrats are in the White House) demand real solutions beyond those found on the bumpers of cars and pickup trucks.

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