WASHINGTON – President-elect Joe Biden has predicted Republicans will have an “epiphany” after the loss of President Donald Trump. Three weeks after the election, there is no sign of it.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Has yet to recognize Biden as president-elect. And, like most Republicans, he hasn’t condemned Trump’s unprecedented attempts to overthrow the will of voters.
While McConnell has been silent on the first nominees to Biden’s Cabinet, some ambitious senators are already criticizing the group, which includes Antony Blinken for secretary of state and Alejandro Mayorkas for leading homeland security.
The GOP’s response to the election is a worrying sign that Biden’s speech ushers in a new era of unity and bipartisanship. Even if defeated, Trump’s presence is significant and Republicans are reluctant to offend his supporters. Trump may have to step down, but he can take with him one of his most powerful weapons to shape party behavior: his Twitter account.
On the cusp of a Thanksgiving weekend during a raging pandemic and economic crisis Biden is set to inherit, progressives want him to reset expectations.
“Epiphany is not happening and for itself it is time for Biden to change gears,” said Adam Jentleson, a former Democratic Senate executive assistant. “It was fine as empty political rhetoric, but continuing to lean on it only defeats Biden. If he continues to insist that he can usher in a new era of bipartisanship, anything what the Republicans have to do is deny him cooperation and he will. have broken one of his main promises. “
Presidents typically obtain confirmation of certain Cabinet candidates by the Senate on the first day of their term. McConnell’s office did not comment when asked if this tradition would extend to Biden. Unless the Democrats win Georgia’s two seats in the Jan.5 runoff, he will be the first president since 1989 to take office without his party controlling both houses of Congress.
Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., tweeted that the Biden nominees were “a bunch of corporate and war enthusiasts – and #BigTech for sale.” Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., called them Ivy League graduates who have “strong resumes” and “will be the polite and orderly guardians of America’s decline.”
Other conservative senators were happy that Biden did not choose more liberal candidates.
McConnell is known to hold his cards close to the waistcoat, read the political winds, and choose his times to wield power. He has demonstrated a penchant for aggressive filibustering under President Barack Obama, but has been somewhat more accessible to administrative staff.
Some Republicans say his indulgence towards Trump concerns Georgia.
“I don’t read much in McConnell’s silence. I think he’s trying to show some deference to Trump in the hope of promoting party unity before Georgia’s second round,” said Alex Conant. , a veteran of the Republican campaign who also worked in the Senate.
‘A great, great epiphany’
During the election campaign last year, Biden repeatedly promised a GOP “epiphany” after Trump walked away. He paused the use of the word during the heat of the Democratic primary contests, but returned to it in July, saying during a fundraiser that “if we can’t unite the country, we are dead.” .
“With the departure of Donald Trump, the fear of retaliation has been removed,” Biden told donors, according to Bloomberg News. “If we win as big as we can, there’s going to be a big, big reveal that’s going to take place, as we say, Catholics. And they’re going to start wondering whether or not they’re taking me and losing by just being obstructionist. “
If Republicans win a race in Georgia, they will retain the Senate. If they lose both, the house will split 50-50 and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be able to vote to put Democrats in control.
Conant said he expects qualified candidates to be confirmed in a GOP-led Senate, although he noted the hearings could be controversial. He said the Republican Party has some soul searching to do.
“Losing the White House is difficult for any party and there is always a leadership vacuum afterwards,” Conant said. “While I think many Republicans will be open to working with Biden on bipartisan initiatives, opposition to more left-wing Democrats policies may be the one thing that really keeps Republicans united.”
Some critics of the president do not expect the party to abandon its Trumpian colors. One of them is Tim Miller, a veteran GOP agent who worked to defeat Trump and officially left the party this week.
“Sitting here today watching these Republicans sit in silence as the president destroys our democracy with absurd plots and becomes the first modern president to refuse to concede an election, it is clear that any hope of reconciliation was madness.” Miller wrote.
Trump’s baseless allegations of widespread fraud and a “rigged election” appear to have taken hold within his party. In a recent Monmouth poll, 76% of Republicans said they were not convinced the 2020 election was conducted in a fair and accurate manner.
Despite Trump’s defeat, Republicans topped the polls, winning House seats and winning numerous Senate contests. This prevented the kind of explosive elections that Biden and the Democrats relied on to crush the remnants of Trumpism in his party.
In a Morning Consult / Politico poll this week, 68% of GOP voters said Trump was more in touch with them than Republicans in Congress. In a hypothetical 2024 primary, 54% are in favor of Trump, with Vice President Mike Pence following at 12%.
“It’s a political phenomenon,” said former GOP Representative Jack Kingston of Georgia. “He knows – in that simplistic World Wrestling Entertainment and reality TV backdrop – he knows how to simplify tough issues and draw people in and convince them he’s the man on their side.”