As expected, the main theme of President Joe Biden’s Inaugural Address–and yes, he is legally the President, because the Electoral College gave him a majority–was unity. He returned to the theme many times, perhaps most powerfully in these words:
Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together. Uniting our people. Uniting our nation. . .
We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban or conservative against liberal. We can do this, if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts. If we show a little tolerance and humility. And if we’re willing to stand in the other person’s shoes. . .
The question is, is this a real opening to the concerns of the Right or just feel-good rhetoric? The rest of the speech regrettably suggests the latter. Biden took repeated pot-shots at the Right and addressed the Left’s issues but had nothing to say about the issues that drive the Right.
What might he have said about the latter? How about:
I respect and will defend the right of all Americans to freedom of thought, speech, and other expressions of their views, liberals and conservatives alike, and yes, people who are sometimes labelled “racists”, “sexists”, and “fascists”. I disagree with their views with all my soul, but as Americans they have the right to state them.
I will respect and defend the right of all Americans to live according to their religious beliefs, including beliefs contrary to my own, such as opposition to abortion and gay marriage. A baker should not lose his livelihood for refusing to bake a cake.
I oppose “cancelling” people, which is just a new name for blacklisting. No one should lose his job or be forced out of his field of work because he or she refuses to say what an ideology commands. I will ban such actions for all federal employees and federal contractors, and I will order my administration to look skeptically at any institution, including colleges and universities, that practice “cancelling” while receiving federal funds.
I will respect the Second Amendment as I do all the Constitution and I will defend Americans’ right to keep and bear arms.
Such words would at least have opened the door to Right and Left working out a modus vivendi, a way we can live together in one country despite fundamental disagreements. But even if President Biden had said them, unity would have faced enormous roadblocks.
Perhaps the most important comes from the internet and the devices that deliver it, such as computers and cell phones. The internet allows people to construct and live in their own little world, one where whatever they think–that America is afflicted with “systemic racism”, that men and women are interchangeable, that the moon is made of green cheese–is affirmed to them over and over, where they are connected to other people with the same worldview and where they never see or hear contrary evidence. The internet is atomizing. How can anyone bring unity to 330 million separate and often clashing worlds?
Another obstacle is the fact that the American Left is no longer liberal, in any sense of the word. It has become ideological, built upon the ideology of cultural Marxism, aka Political Correctness or “wokeness”. All ideologies tend toward puritanism, and cultural Marxism is no exception. For such ideologies, any compromise with the Right, any modus vivendi, makes them “impure” and vulnerable on their own Left to those even more extreme. Eventually, ideologies suffer an internal “coup of Thermidor” a la the Brinton thesis and move back toward the center, but it looks unlikely the American Left will see that soon.
The upshot of all this is that President Biden’s call for unity will probably be seen by history as just another vanity. It will have had no effect on events, which will take what now seems their inevitable course into widespread Fourth Generation war on American soil and a break-up of the American state–the Victoria scenario. While President Trump was outwardly a polarizing figure, he did more to preserve unity than President Biden is likely to because he offered a voice and a place within the political system to the people on the Right. Under Biden they will have no such voice, despite his stated intention to be “a President for all Americans–all Americans.” On the contrary, they will become the targets for a cultural Marxism backed by the full power of the federal government. And, as the world saw on January 6, they will fight back.
If President Biden needs a call sign, I suggest Romulus Augustulus.