America needs reconciliation

Joe Biden calls for unity : The Republicans are caught in the trap of reconciliation

The headline in many newspapers on Monday read: Joe Biden calls on the Americans for reconciliation. Because that has a tradition in America: The election winner transforms into the future statesman, wants to represent the entire country, to heal the wounds of the previously bitter conflict.

“I will work just as hard for those who didn't vote for me as I did for those who voted for me,” promises Biden. And: “I promised to be a president who does not divide, but unites. Let's give each other a chance now. "

That sounds honorable, no one can seriously be against reconciliation. Or is it? What exactly does it mean when supporters of Joe Biden and Donald Trump are now supposed to "give each other a chance"? What chance do the Democrats want to give the Republicans? As the winner of the election, do you want to forego climate protection and the “Green New Deal”, tax increases and liberal immigration law, Obamacare and laws against discrimination against minorities? After all, the newly elected president comes up with the resolution not to divide, but to unite. Hardly likely.

No appeal for reconciliation can eliminate the very real and fundamental political differences between the camps. The suspicion therefore arises that such appeals have a strategic component. The opponent should submit, the hatchet should be buried. This means that the opposition is de-legitimized. Those who continue to emphasize dissent not only articulate a different opinion, but deepen the division again.

The new balance of power should be accepted

From a historical perspective, too, the rhetoric of reconciliation often served to accept newly created power relations as final. The words of Abraham Lincoln, with which he stretched out his hand to the southern states in March 1865, shortly before the end of the bloody civil war, are legendary: "With malice toward none".

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At the end of his second inaugural speech, he added this sentence: “Let us finish the work - to bandage the wounds of the nation; to provide for whoever fought, his widow, his orphan - to do whatever can bring and nurture a just and lasting peace among us and with all nations. ”Lincoln's forces had won the Civil War, all further resistance should appear amoral. Shortly after that speech, Lincoln was murdered.

When appeals for reconciliation are accompanied by a power imbalance, they cause ambivalent reactions. On the one hand there is the laudable will to want to restore the unity of the nation, to end disputes, to curb negative feelings such as contempt and hatred. The impulse behind it is often - especially in the USA - based on religious models. "Father, forgive them because they do not know what they are doing," says Jesus on the cross. Christians pray in the Lord's Prayer: "Forgive us our debts, just as we forgive our debtors."

Reconciliation also requires repentance and confession

But in “reconciliation” there is the root word “atonement”. Reconciliation cannot simply be expected, decreed or even sued for. Real reconciliation requires repentance, confession, and forgiveness.

When a white person appeals to a black person to finally end the issue of racism and to reconcile with one another, it is presumptuous because it would obscure the different experiences. Those who ignore the question of power in appeals for reconciliation may increase the power imbalance.

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Asking reconciliation without asking forgiveness from the other is easy. When George W. Bush won in December 2000 after weeks of legal tug-of-war against Al Gore, he too promised to heal the wounds and to be president of all Americans. "I thank Vice President Gore for a competition that was witty and ended with dignity," said Bush. Many Democrats and supporters of Gore, who accused Bush of stealing the election, saw his praise as a slap.

The demonizers - they are always the others

You know that from sport. One of the greatest humiliations to the losers is to say they fought fantastically and did their best.

In the political arena, every invocation of morality also has an instrumental character. If Biden sees the beginning of his presidency as "the beginning of the end of the dark era of demonization in America", his accusation is not aimed at Democrats, who labeled supporters of Trump as racists, sexists and fascists. He will neither distance himself from it nor apologize for it. The demonizers - they are always the others.

Joe Biden calls on the Americans to reconcile: Many Republicans know that they alone are meant. Their tone should be moderate, they should come to terms with the election result. Some will clench their fists in anger as a result. In a torn country, even appeals for reconciliation increase the inability to compromise.

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