If you’re not willing to compromise with reasonable people in the other party, you’re not appreciating the gravity of the crisis. Four hundred thousand Americans are dead, most of them needlessly. Two-thirds of the House Republican conference, nearly one-third of the entire House, voted to reject the 2020 election results. Thousands of Americans just invaded our own Capitol, some of them looking to hang the vice president or kidnap the speaker of the House. Tens of millions of others believe the lies that inspired the attack.
If you hold Trump and his party responsible for this madness, as I do, it’s tempting to write off the whole GOP. The COVID deniers and election conspiracy theorists are overwhelmingly on the right. For the next two years, Democrats will control the presidency, the House, and the Senate. Why not just tell Republicans to go to hell? The answer is that propagandists thrive on polarization. They recruit and derange their followers by dismissing all criticism as partisan. To break their grip on the right half of the country, we need a fact-based alliance that crosses party lines.
That means looking for common ground everywhere. It means supporting Sen. Mitt Romney, Rep. Liz Cheney, and other Republicans when they speak the truth. It means seriously engaging fact-based journalism at the Dispatch, the Bulwark, National Review, and other publications in the center and on the right. It means distinguishing the sins of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush from the pathologies of Trump and Newt Gingrich. In this fight, we need everyone who’s willing to play by the rules of deliberative democracy. So, for at least the next four years, that’s my commitment: If you believe in settling disputes by consulting evidence, I’m on your team.