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It's time to treat Republican officials like children

January 25, 2021 in Blogs

By John Stoehr

I think children understand justice better than most members of the Republican Party. I think they would understand better than pretty much any grownup that something serious is missing from the debate over the former president’s crimes, his pending trial in the U.S. Senate, and the complicity of some of his fellow Republicans.

Right now, most of us insist that truth is a necessary precondition to unity. In other words, if all the Republicans who said, or implied, that Joe Biden stole the election concede the truth—which is that Donald Trump lost fair and square—then we can have unity. That’s not enough. We can’t see it, though. We’re too focused on insisting the Republicans tell the truth. Fact is, lying is an injury. It’s going to take more than accepting the truth to restore trust in the Republicans. It’s going to take an apology.

The republic can’t endure without the truth. It can’t endure without justice either. But the Republicans want peace without it. They want unity without it. They want you to trust them without having done the work to restore your trust.

Look, when my 9-year-old hurts a friend’s feelings, she knows there are three steps toward reconciliation. One, accept the truth. She hurt a friend. Yes, she didn’t mean to. But she did. Now she needs to accept the fact of her friend’s hurt feelings. She needs to accept that—if she values their friendship. If she does not, well, then we need to talk.

Two, ask for forgiveness. In asking, my daughter is demonstrating understanding and acceptance of the truth. Her friend’s feelings are real. They are legitimate. And she is accountable for her actions. Her friend may not forgive her. Their friendship might not survive. But that’s not in my daughter’s power. What is is accepting responsibility.

Three, say sorry. In saying sorry, my daughter is affirming that her interests are equal to their friendship, but at the same time, her interests do not supersede their mutual interest. Friendship isn’t about what one person can do for another, but what we can do for each other, and most importantly, what we can do together in unity. In saying sorry, she is recognizing the reality of a third entity worthy of respect: me, you and us.

This, apparently, needs to be said for the benefit of some Republicans who continue to insist, or imply childishly, that Trump was wronged …read more


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