A Bidenesque aisle-crossing in Congress

As lawmakers near a consensus on a coronavirus aid package, they also reinforce the president-elect’s promise to bind “the wounds of division.”

U.S. Senators' Lisa Murkowski (R), Jeane Shaheen (D), and Mitt Romney (R) listen as Bill Cassidy (R) speaks about a framework for coronavirus relief legislation Dec. 1.

US President-elect Joe Biden, who has promised to “bind the wounds of division” among Americans, must be pleased with a change of tone in Congress a month after the election. Top leaders in both parties are not only talking to each other about a new coronavirus relief package, but also nearing a compromise that would give close to $1 trillion to individuals, businesses, and states.

Perhaps by ending their long divide over a second aid package, lawmakers will help the next president achieve even greater feats of bipartisan consensus.

Mr. Biden also says he “doesn’t see red states and blue states.” That befits his 36 years in the Senate cutting deals with rivals he warmly embraced as family. “I love you,” he told Republican Sen. Jesse Helms in 1999 after the two passed a measure to restore funding for the State Department. Genuine affection between opponents, built on honesty and respect, is a proven lubricant for successful legislation.

As a lawmaker, Mr. Biden had a knack for focusing on realities that neither side on Capitol Hill could ignore. COVID-19, like the Cold War during his time in Congress, has helped force Congress to overcome some “wounds of division.” The proposed relief package won’t satisfy everybody, Mr. Biden says, “but the option is, if you insist on everything, we’re likely to get nothing on both sides.”

Some call that pragmatism. Mr. Biden suggests such bipartisanship is national healing. While the former vice president won the election decisively, he recognizes many voters split their tickets, giving victories to Republicans in state races and gains in the House. Both parties also saw voters giving a thumbs-down to many extreme candidates.

“Americans are inherently optimistic,” concludes Time magazine’s wrap-up of the year 2020. “It’s why our allies like us, even if they secretly mock us behind our backs – but we don’t care!” Mr. Biden’s own optimism will probably lead him to focus on many bipartisan opportunities, such as infrastructure. His tenure in the Oval Office could be remembered like that of Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, all of whom passed major bills with the opposing party.

Being “a president for all Americans,” as Mr. Biden promises, might already be off to a good start in the lame-duck Congress.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to A Bidenesque aisle-crossing in Congress
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today