My skepticism is not sour grapes over the election. Joe Biden is our president, and he has my prayers and my respect. Furthermore, whenever and however the public policy group I lead can work together with him and his administration, we will.
Rather, my skepticism is rooted in years of experience as a conservative in higher education—in a liberal arts field, no less, where liberal professors outnumber conservatives by more than 33 to one. That experience revealed the depth of disdain that so many on the American Left have for conservatives. In those circles, whether at faculty meetings or in social gatherings, my liberal colleagues’ appeals to “civility” and “unity” were applicable only when conservatives disagreed with them. In other words, “be civil” and “strive for unity” are really code-words for the intellectual submission that liberal academics demand.
Not only has this problem worsened in academia, but it has also spread like a cancer to our political discourse. Just like I experienced in the academe, liberal elected officials—and their allies in so many media outlets—are appealing to “civility” and “unity” to shut out conservative voices.
During the Trump administration, liberal elected leaders sowed disunity daily, and in grandiose proportion. That started as soon as Donald Trump was declared the winner of the presidential election, and by Inauguration Day 2017, it reached a fever-pitch. Conveniently short memories obscure the horrible scenes from four years ago when scores of protestors in Washington, D.C. and state capitals across the nation revealed an intransigence toward unity that would persist until Trump’s last day in office. This year, for Inauguration Day, there were more soldiers—25,000!—in the nation’s capital than there were protestors nationwide.
What’s more, some of the very same politicians preaching unity today were the worst purveyors of disunity four years ago. For example, in 2017, California Rep. Maxine Waters stated, “I wouldn’t waste my time” at Trump’s inauguration “or any activities associated” with him. Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky claimed she couldn’t attend because Trump “used bigotry, lies, and fear to win an election that was tainted by foreign interference and voter suppression.” And New Jersey Rep. Donald Payne Jr. went so far as to argue that Trump “was unfit to hold” the office.
Those remarks on the president’s first day in office were mere child’s play compared to what was to come. Debunked claims of Russian collusion. Arrogant mocking of the president’s peace-driven foreign policy. Vicious, hateful, disgusting attacks, not just on one, or two, but three, Supreme Court nominees. Then impeachment. And the fait accompli—ridiculous claims that Trump wanted Americans to die from COVID-19.
Of all the political attacks I’ve witnessed by the Left, of all the absurdities they’ve hurled, they have never been more vicious than in the last year of Trump’s presidency. And that’s saying something, considering Hillary Clinton’s derision of conservatives as “deplorables” and President Barack Obama’s distaste for “bitter” conservatives who “cling” to guns and religion.
It’s not just Trump they’re attacking. In the wake of the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by a small group of extremists—which conservatives rightly and vigorously denounced—the Left and the media are working to lump in anyone who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for either Clinton or Biden with the rioters. Some have even called for re-education camps for the children of Trump voters.
Yet now the Left preaches unity?
No conservative—and no American—should fall into this trap. It’s a rhetorical bait-and-switch that will soon be used to tamp down legitimate, reasonable objections to the Biden administration’s policy agenda.
In fact, with each passing day filled with more and more of Biden’s new executive orders—so many of which perpetuate racial division and identity-group politics—we see just how hollow the calls for “unity” are.
Kevin Roberts is the executive director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.