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Since his election, President Joe Biden has made unity a theme of his speeches. In his inaugural address last week, Biden used the word “unity” at least eight times:

“To overcome these challenges — to restore the soul and to secure the future of America — requires more than words. It requires that most elusive of things in a democracy: Unity. Unity. …

“With unity we can do great things. Important things. …

“History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity. We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. …

“This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward. And, we must meet this moment as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you, we will not fail. …

“And together, we shall write an American story of hope, not fear. Of unity, not division. Of light, not darkness. An American story of decency and dignity.”

We live in a society that is fractured politically, where compromise is seen as surrender. We’ve always had our differences, but beginning with the Bill Clinton impeachment, divisions have gotten more pronounced with each new president. Donald Trump used them masterfully in 2016 to be elected. Had he dialed it back once he took office, he might have been reelected. But he didn’t, and he wasn’t.

The question now is what do Biden and his supporters mean by unity? If it’s along the lines of “we won and you have to live with it,” their talk of unity will be hollow words that only deepen our divisions.

Unity will take recognition from both sides that neither has a 100% lock on wisdom and that the other side just might have some good ideas.

The biggest roadblocks to unity could be the people in politics and various forms of media who rely on division for power, profit and pride. Winning them over could be the hardest part of all this.

As the head of his party, which now controls the White House and both houses of Congress, it’s up to Biden to reach out to Trump supporters and show that he is someone they can respect and deal with. Then it’s up to Trump supporters to recognize good-faith efforts and negotiate compromises they can live with.

Who knows, maybe such efforts can trickle down to the state and local level and even into family conversations during holiday reunions. It will be a long process, but it has to start sometime and somewhere.

Mr. President, it’s your move.

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