Ideas
January 21, 2021 1:11 PM EST
Karen Finney, a Democratic strategist and CNN commentator, served as deputy press secretary for Hillary Clinton and deputy director of presidential scheduling during the Clinton Administration

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris take office at a time when the stakes are historically high for America’s democracy, requiring them to balance holding themselves accountable to their pledge to move America forward with holding Trump, the Republican Party and all who participated in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol accountable for their actions.

To tackle the significant challenges before them, they must do two important things: First, they must stay focused on implementing the agenda that a record 81 million Americans voted for in the face of a deadly global pandemic, voter suppression, and a barrage of dangerous lies and misinformation. Second, after four years of Donald Trump’s politics of polarization, which exploited and deepened historic racial, social, gender, religious and economic divisions, they must acknowledge that what we saw on Jan. 6 is a part of who we are, but it is not who we have to be as a nation.

To the first imperative, Biden and his team moved consistently throughout the transition to provide a transparent road map to his first actions as President. Adeptly touching on issues that directly affect the broad coalition of voters who elected him, as well as the country as a whole, Biden also made clear that he will use Executive Orders, presidential memoranda, directives to Cabinet agencies and political capital in addition to his legislative agenda to make policy changes that honor his campaign promises. His multi-pronged approach to combatting the pandemic not only counters the damaging incompetence of Trump’s “you’re on your own” response, it also puts the resources of the federal government to work across the country so Americans can quickly see and feel a change in how the crisis is being handled.

The Biden Administration should work closely with Democratic congressional leadership to leverage the GOP’s newfound calls for unity to press for immediate action on laws that would help the American people. And as his Department of Justice works to undo the damage done under Trump and implement criminal justice and policing reforms, they should continue to pursue and hold accountable both those who had a role in the attack on the Capitol and those who are still planning and plotting against our democracy. After coddling Trump throughout his presidency, Mitch McConnell and congressional Republicans cannot be allowed to use impeachment proceedings to slow down the process, minimize the violence, shift blame, or push a false equivalence or grievance narrative.

Long before the insurrection, the COVID-19 pandemic or the death of George Floyd, Joe Biden recognized that the soul of our country is long overdue for healing. Now, as he and Vice President Harris work toward a better America, he must continue to demonstrate the understanding that there can be no unity without the accountability that this moment and our historic divisions call for.

Contact us at letters@time.com.

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