Early polling shows Americans believe President Joe Biden is a unifying figure.
President Joe Biden on Monday explained that his vision of "unity" is about improving lives of Americans across the spectrum, rather than conceding to Republican demands.
Washington Post reporter Annie Linskey asked Biden at a press conference how he defines unity, a major theme of his inauguration last week.
Unity is "trying to reflect what the majority of the American people — Democrat, Republican and independent — think is within the fulcrum of what needs to be done to make their lives, and the lives of Americans better," Biden said.
He also noted that in his world view, unity also means to "eliminate the vitriol" from political conversation by removing language that implies a lack of decency or integrity.
Since Biden was sworn in, Republicans have tried to use Biden's call for unity against him.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy complained last week that Biden's actions — like reversing Donald Trump's Muslim ban and proposing a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants — somehow run counter to unity.
Other Republicans in Congress have made similar complaints, claiming that a series of executive orders Biden signed in his first days are not consistent with his call for the country to unite.
Those executive actions include protecting public land from exploitation, rejoining the Paris climate agreement, stopping construction on the border wall, and restoring funds to support international abortion providers — all steps Biden vowed to take during his presidential campaign.
And while Republicans are now demanding Biden abandon his promised agenda to meet their definition of unity, polling shows that Americans are thus far pleased with how their new president is handling the job.
In an ABC News/Ipsos poll released over the weekend, 69% of respondents approved of Biden's response to the pandemic, and 57% expressed confidence in Biden's ability to unify the country.
From a Jan. 25 press conference:
ANNIE LINSKEY, Washington Post: If you could talk a little bit about what you see unity as being — there are some people who are defining it as being bipartisan, others are saying it is what most of the people of the country, defined by some poll might believe — or perhaps its 50 plus 1, or 50 plus 2, or 75%.
Given that it is such a key part of your message and your promise, can you talk and reflect a little bit more about what is unity, when you see it, as you define it?
JOE BIDEN: Well, Annie, I think it makes up several of the issues, the points you made. One is, unity requires you to take away – eliminate the vitriol. Make anything that you disagree with about the other person's personality, their lack of integrity, or they’re not decent legislators and the like. So we have to get rid of that, and I think that's already beginning to change, but God knows where things go, number one.
Unity also is trying to reflect what the majority of the American people — Democrat, Republican and independent — think is within the fulcrum of what needs to be done to make their lives, and the lives of Americans, better.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.