A week after the shocking Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol by an angry mob, Republicans are suddenly calling for unity.
"We must work together to lower the temperature and unite the country," said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. "We must come together and put this anger and division behind us," said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. It is time to "take the crazy rhetoric down on both sides," said Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.
What all of these GOP leaders -- and many more calling for reconciliation -- have in common is that they voted against counting President-elect Joe Biden's electoral votes, even after a mob stormed the nation's seat of government on President Donald Trump's behalf.
If Republicans want to talk about reconciliation, then there is a minimum price of entry: a straightforward, unequivocal acknowledgment that the election was not rigged and that Biden won the vote fair and square.
Trump is attempting to make the 2020 election a 21st-century Lost Cause, entrenching the myth that malicious forces subverted American democracy to install Biden against the will of the voters. It is this lie that Trump fed his supporters before telling them to march to the Capitol and show "strength" -- and that he continued to feed them in tweets even during the assault. It is the same lie that McCarthy, Cruz and a startling number of Republicans fueled as they twisted what should have been a rubber-stamp electoral-vote-counting process into a forum for overturning a clean election and a locus for the mob's anger.
Some Republicans and right-wing commentators have argued that there is little difference between what Republicans have done since November and what Democrats did after Trump's 2016 victory. It would follow, they suggest, that Biden and the Democrats should make the first moves toward reconciliation by standing down from impeachment.
This is unhinged. Democrats immediately acknowledged Trump's win. There was a broad factual basis for the Russia investigation that followed. Democrats did not paint American democracy as so hopelessly corrupted as to persuade a large chunk of the country that the 2016 election was stolen and inspire a violent attack on the Capitol. Only Republicans are guilty of escalating the nation's partisan warfare to such a sad place. Now that the consequences of their dishonest campaign are becoming clear, it is on them to begin the reconciliation process -- by telling the truth.
Biden spent much of his presidential campaign reaching out to Republicans, taking considerable flak from the left for it. Republicans responded by trying to discredit an election he won, with tragic consequences. Healing begins by recognizing the facts and saying these words: Biden won, fair and square.