Can we be unified and civil? Not likely – and both sides are to blame

After the Wednesday invasion of the U.S. Capitol and an incredibly hostile and divisive presidential election, many leaders and individuals are calling for a new era of unity and civility.

But don’t hold your breath. The underlying causes of political strife and disagreement aren’t going to allow the nation to heal. A big part of the problem is that leaders on both the left and right love to talk about unity and civility, but what they really mean is, “We’ll have unity and healing if you surrender and do what I want.”

Few leaders are really willing to compromise and meet the other side half way. And while they ask for unity and healing, hypocrisy is revealed in their rhetoric and actions that divide rather than unite.

Donald Trump is exhibit No. 1 in perfecting the art of dividing and demonizing. He’s done that for the last five years (including the 2016 election year), calling people names, belittling them, and making no attempt to compromise or get along.

For the most part, Trump hasn’t even called for unity and healing. In that way, he’s at least not a hypocrite. But on Thursday, when he acknowledged defeat, Trump called for “healing and reconciliation” and his press secretary said it’s “time to unite and come together.” It’s a little late to ask for unity when you’ve spent years disparaging your political enemies.

But the leftist media and liberal Democrats are no better. They’ve spent years harassing Trump unmercifully, mounting unfounded investigations, calling his presidency illegitimate, frivolously impeaching him and ridiculing his supporters.

Even now, with only days to go in Trump’s presidency, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are calling for peace and civility, while simultaneously making the silly and incredibly divisive demand that Trump be thrown out of office via the 25th Amendment, or the House will again impeach him. They have attacked Trump a thousand times using the ugliest language possible (and he has responded in kind). 

Pres.-elect Joe Biden has said dozens of times he will be a healer and uniter. But his speech on Thursday was anything but unifying. He attacked tens of thousands of Trump supporters in the nastiest terms possible and gratuitously played the race card.

And other supposedly bipartisan, centrist groups and movements routinely call for harmony and compromise while trashing Trump and his followers at every opportunity. Stand Up Republic, which has Utah ties and that vows to “restore and strengthen our democracy,” has attacked Trump and his supporters over and over again and continues to do so.       

The United Utah Party is not uniting Utah, but is causing more division by demanding that Trump, along with Congressmen Chris Stewart and Burgess Owens, and also Attorney General Sean Reyes, resign for “enabl(ing) the extremism that incited” the attack on the Capitol. They said their targets operate “to their everlasting shame” “beyond the bounds of basic human decency.”

Will such extremist, divisive rhetoric heal the nation? Will it make the 74 million Americans who voted for Trump want to join hands in unity? The United Utah Party ought to be ashamed.

Even the group Mormon Women for Ethical Government issued a demand that Trump be thrown from office just several days before he will be gone. Do they not understand the anger this would incite among millions of Americans? This from a group that claims its members are “ambassadors of peace,” that purports to want to rebuild “mutual trust and respect” and “restore unity.” Are they just another leftist fringe group?

One of the biggest sources of national division is the news media that fan the flames, seek extreme comments, and continually demonize those they disagree with. Just recently, CNN’s Anderson Cooper disparaged Trump supporters with the tone-deaf sneer that they eat at Olive Garden and stay at Holiday Inns. The Fox News commentators are no better when talking about liberals.

Sen. Mitt Romney recently wrote a lengthy article making an impassioned call for comity, mutual understanding, peace, healing, love, and so forth. And, yet, he was the only Republican U.S. senator who voted to throw a duly elected president out of office for a flimsy offense. To millions of Republicans, Romney isn’t a unifier. He’s a divider.

I’m hopeful that with Trump out of office, the rhetoric will be toned down. But we’re not going to be a unified nation. The gulf is far too wide between conservatives and liberals, between elitists and ordinary people. Democrats are going to fight among themselves. Republicans will do the same, especially because Trump is still going to try to control the party. And the parties will battle each other over many issues.