Moving forward as one

The anger, unjustified accusations, rage and occasional violence on both the right and left that darkened this year’s political campaigns and the days of vote-counting we have endured in America have done little good. There was this: both the extreme right and the extreme left, flawed by anti-Israel propaganda and anti-Semitism, lost in the election.

President Elect Joseph Biden, a right of center Democrat won. The right lost more there than the left. But Republicans took two seats in the House of Representatives, not enough to end Democratic control, but a clear indication that many voters are leaning to the right. And that perception is certified by Republican dominance in numerous state legislature elections.

The proper response to those developments is not continued war between the sides but the recognition that their differences create opportunities for balanced progress. If all look past the difficulties that cost President Trump reelection–his assaults on the truth, denial of climate change, failure to correctly address the pandemic, support of racists and religious intolerance, his mistaken approach to immigration, cordial attitudes toward dictators and autocrats and adversarial stances in relation to allies–we can find areas in which his administration realized significant accomplishments that deserve praise and further development.

Mr. Biden correctly sees himself as President-to-be not of Democrats but of all Americans. He can support citizens on the right by recognizing that President Trump improved Israel’s relations with its Arab neighbors by convincing the UAE, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and gradually emerging other nations to make public their formerly covert improving relationships with Israel.

Not just peace but warm peace exists among them now, a precedent for improving the cold peace that obtains among Israel, Egypt and Jordan. President Biden can acknowledge the fine work of Kelly Craft, the current Ambassador to the UN, and her excellent team of supporters, whose work he should undertake to enhance, perhaps even retaining them. All this can lead to constructive debate and compromise between Republicans and Democrats in Congress and among allies and even adversaries East and West, North and South,

President Biden can thus convey to Mr. Trump that he is appreciated for important accomplishments, and our country can move forward with right, center and left arguing constructively with each other and reaching compromises that may well be better than the singular positions of any of them.

There is an historical precedent for that. America’s first flawed President, the slave holder George Washington, recognized the usefulness of advisors whose values clashed. He appointed Thomas Jefferson, a wealthy deist state’s-rights Virginia slaveholder, to be Secretary of State, and Alexander Hamilton, a Jewish Caribbean immigrant who advocated freedom for slaves and happened to be an economic genius, Secretary of the Treasury. Though they hated each other, the result was constructive arguments about policy that eventuated in an economically viable state that gained traction in the world and flourished.

Led by the balanced and trustworthy Mr. Biden. the United States today can gain admirable international traction again. Dictators and autocrats can be held in check by reunited nations, East and West, with a refocused quest for shared security and prosperity, the addressing of global problems like climate change and pandemics by scientific engagement and, through such cooperation, a movement toward peace. It can eventuate in the negotiated creation of a State of Palestine, warmly related to its neighbor and economic partner Israel.

About the Author
Albert Wachtel , a professor at Pitzer College, one of the Claremont Colleges in Southern California, and writes essays on politics, social and literary situations and short stories, often concerning Jews and Israel.