Dear GOP: What exactly are we supposed to unite with?

by Janelle Hanchett

Joe Biden wasn’t my first, or second, or, let’s be real, third choice, but it did feel like something amazing was happening on the day of his inauguration, beyond the obviously momentous occasion of the first female Vice President. And Amanda Gorman’s entire existence.

And it was amazing. It’s rare to kneecap an autocrat through voting, for a nation to buy herself some time. And we did it.

We walked right up to the fucking ledge, all the way to armed insurrection, to “very fine people on both sides,” to years of lies culminating in the Big Lie, to organized right-wing militias, to the beating of police officers and chants of “Hang Mike Pence” and a confederate flag flying in the halls of the American seat of government. We went all the way to domestic terrorists, backed by Members of Congress and incited by the President, storming our Capitol, replacing the American flag with theirs, and roaming the halls with zip ties looking for hostages.

So, yes, when I saw Biden repeat the oath of office, it felt like a damn big deal, like the biggest bullet ever had just blown right past our heads, and I felt proud of what America had done. It felt like a bit of relief, a breath. Some hope for the first time in a long time.

And yet, like the empty seat where the outgoing President normally sits in a symbolic sign of the peaceful transfer of power, Trump’s presence—even in his absence—runs beneath it all.

He’s a damn specter: We can not see it if we don’t want to.

What? That? It’s gone. I don’t see it. All I see is Lady Gaga’s brooch.

On January 6 we had no choice but to look at it all dead in the eyes, but now, if we want, we can go to brunch and never think about politics again. You know, like we used to.

Let’s never do that again. That did not go well at all.

We can “move on” and feel safe again, enjoy “decency” and full sentences in the White House, competence and the lack of name-calling, dog-whistling, conspiratorial, lying tweets.

But, uh, y’all, we had all that right before we had Trump.

And always there’s that empty chair and the 74 million Americans who voted for it.

There’s still Trump and his merry band of lying corporatists (in and out of his family), the nutjobs of Q-Anon, the tiny-men parade of Proud Boys, Boogaloo, Oath Keepers and Three-Percenters.

But mostly, my god there is the “sane” GOP. At least the far-right idiot brigade is clean, clear, and crisply disturbed. They are, quite clearly, fascists.

But the fascist-lite wing, the “we’ll work with the fascists as long as we can get tax cuts” wing, the “surely we can get Trump under control and just use him for court appointments” wing, the “since we can’t win on our ideas let’s appeal to the imagined grievances of white people” wing, the “sure let’s tell them the election was rigged because losing power sucks” wing—those people, the ones who gaslight us until our heads nearly explode—what the fuck do we do with them?

“Unite?” Please.


Watching them feels like a direct assault on truth, reason, and sanity because it is an assault on truth, reason, and sanity. Accepting what they’re saying requires us to deny what’s in front of our own fucking eyes, to accept a false version of reality.

As sane people—and I mean that literally as in, “a person who can distinguish fantasy from reality”­—we can’t do that.

But there they are, almost like legitimate leaders, walking the halls, getting interviewed on CNN and Fox.

They stand for nothing, dip their toes into accountability via mealy-mouthed rhetoric and only if there’s not a single thing at stake for them personally. (My, my they all get so brave as they walk out the door to quit, retire, or sign a contract for a 7-figure “tell all!” book deal.)

They tell us “The insurrectionists do not represent the GOP” five minutes before they vote against the material manifestation that the insurrectionists do not represent the GOP (see: impeachment).

One hundred and forty-seven of them in the House voted against certifying the results of a free and fair election, mainly votes by Black Americans, after they’d lost sixty court cases on the subject, and four hours after that very lie led to an armed insurrection.

And yet, people talk of “unity” with them. Quick question. What exactly are we supposed to unify with? 

The Republicans didn’t even have a 2020 platform, choosing instead to become the official party of Donald Trump. In their words: We enthusiastically support the president’s America-first agenda.”

And on January 6, the entire world saw where that “America First” agenda led. How the fuck do we unite with a party that is unwilling to unequivocally purge itself from the very agenda that led to a fascistic movement?

It’s not that complicated. You can’t walk both sides here. You can’t say “Trump’s our guy” but also “Coups are bad” when TRUMP INCITED A COUP. You can’t stand behind Trump and his myriad bootlickers for four years as they ramp up fascistic rhetoric and imagined grievances and then, when all of that comes to its ultimate and logical violent end, declare “That isn’t us” while voting to perpetuate it all.

The GOP, in its current form, evidenced by its own behavior, is an enemy of democracy, the rule of law, and the republic until further notice.


And now, now they want us to unify with them while they continue to show the moral cowardice that got us here in the first place?

AGAIN, I ask, unify with WHAT?

Camp Auschwitz sweatshirt guy? “6 Million Isn’t Enough” guy? How about the confederate flag dude, or maybe the ones who built a noose or planted bombs? Do we share a cold one with those bastions of freedom who beat police officers with flag poles and a fire extinguisher?

Do we sit down and really get in touch with the white nationalists and ask how we can help them achieve their domestic terrorist goals? Sure, the FBI classified far-right extremists as the greatest terror threat in America, but you know, maybe if we really hear them out, break some fuckin’ bread, we’ll realize suddenly we’re all on the same team here.


Or maybe we go the Q-Anon route. There are actual Q grifters in the House of Representatives now! Is that the new Q Caucus? Trumpy called Q folks “patriots.” His lawyer Lin Wood and his main man Michael Flynn are all about it. Anything for power, amiright?

So in the interest of “healing” do we join whatever backwoods website they’re still allowed on and ask them to elaborate on the Soros-run cabal of deep state politicians and Hollywood stars involved in the rape, murder, and organ harvesting of children?

Do we add “The Great Awakening” to our calendars and look for Q drops and cryptic messages from Giuliani, Pompeo, and random YouTube personalities telling us soon, led by Trump, who’s sent by Jesus, all the bad ones will die?


Look, I know, GOP, you aren’t those people. Of course you aren’t.

But you are.

Because they, too, support the America First agenda. And no, we cannot simply ignore them. We cannot just focus on the everyday, guy-next-door Trump supporter (who we all know extremely well due to the 7,000 profiles in the New York Times).

Our ability to ignore them ended the day they stormed the American seat of government.

Our ability to ignore them ended the day we saw all of these radicalized factions unite under the man you “enthusiastically support.”

Our ability to ignore them ended the day 147 of you STILL voted in line with the lie of a “stolen election,” with zero evidence.

Fascistic movements do not just go away, assholes. They don’t release one collective, sad sigh and say, “Oh, well, gosh darn-it, our leader wasn’t elected so I guess we’ll just go back to rubbing our guns and trying to get back on Parler.”

They evolve. They go underground and keep planning. They look for a new leader. And if the GOP refuses to unequivocally disavow Trump and his agenda, they won’t have to look very far, will they?

Look I know the GOP is fucked. They played with fire, thought they could reign Trump in, thought they could use him for those sweet tax cuts and court appointments, thought of him as a useful idiot—they gambled, and they lost. Because yes, if any of them vote for impeachment, they will probably get primaried and they will probably lose.


Maybe they should have thought of that before hitching their wagons to a white nationalist shitbag with bad spelling and brilliant rhetorical manipulation skills who effectively convinced tens of millions of Americans that a free and fair election was a left-wing conspiracy against Trump, orchestrated by dead Latin American leaders and “hacked” voting machines that don’t even connect to the internet.

Maybe they should have considered the unsustainability of backing an aspiring autocrat unless you’re willing to ride it all the way to the end of democracy.

The GOP needs to decide who and what it is and then talk to us about unity. And the left needs to settle for absolutely nothing less no matter how soothing it is to see normalcy in the White House.


31 Comments | Posted in politics | January 24, 2021
  • Katie

    Wow, I think you are amazing. Thank you.

    • Erin

      As always – thank you! Keep on, sister. We need you!

  • San

    Thank you for putting this all so eloquently. I couldn’t agree more. I know Biden talks about “unifying” and I understand why, but dear god, we definitely can’t unify with fascists.

  • Julie

    Bravo. Now, if only we could get those ignorant Republicans to read this. To really really read this. Oh hell, if only we could get everyone everywhere to read your work.

    • Katie

      However, herein lies the perpetual problem. “Ignorant Republicans”. Are you speaking of the fringe far right? Or Republicans in general? Because I believe the majority of the Republicans are good people. Most of my family are Republicans and they are good people. I myself am not, but we don’t call each other names and refuse to speak because our beliefs don’t align. I get it. You are fired up. But don’t stoop to their level. This is Trumps tactic. This is the nastiness that is constantly recirculating and can someone has to stop. The name calling, the jabs, sometimes I feel like I’m breaking up a fight between my two teenagers more than listening to adults discussing politics. Good grief.

      • Heather

        I find it hard to believe that the majority of republicans are good people if the majority of republicans voted for trump. Anyone who saw exactly what he is… a lying, racist. Sexist, selfish bigot… and still gave him their vote means that they are okay with those things. You can’t be okay with those things and call yourself a “good person!” A good person believes in equal rights for ALL people. The only standard that we should all be living by is to not hurt any other person. Period! If something you do or say hurts others, then you probably shouldn’t be saying or doing it. That’s it!!! Don’t hurt other people! And anyone who supported trump was in fact hurting loads of people. Even if they supported him because it was the political party they choose. He is a vile human. Supporting him in anyway has given him the ability to do the damage that he has done.

        • Katie

          I think you missed my point. Completely. My point was that name calling, finger pointing, mud slinging ACCOMPLISHES NOTHING. That is what Trump is very, very good at. Insulting someone’s intelligence based on party allegiance is hurting another person, btw, and you only reiterated my point from my previous comment. Do you agree?

          • Heather

            The truth is that trump would have never been able to do any of the awful things that he did without the support of republicans. Do you agree?? Why did republicans support someone that called people names and said awful things. The majority of republicans supported him and gave him the power. That is the truth. You can’t stand up for republicans and say name calling is bad when the very leader of that group constantly did that very thing. Republicans gave him the power. They stood up for him every step of the way. Only after the insurrection did some republicans decide to distance themselves. But even now so many of them still support him. You can look at it however you choose, but the fact is trump was in power because of the Republican Party. And all of the name calling, disrespect, and awful behavior was overlooked by so many people for their party. I know that some republicans did not support him, but the majority absolutely did. That is the reason he was there.

            • Katie

              Oh boy, you still missed it. Never mind.

              • Ariel

                Comparing those who are calling out Republicans for their racism, sexism, and support of a near Fascist to “fighting teenagers” is highly disregarding the problem and making it sound way more trivial than it is. The fact is, there is only two ways to describe why Republicans supported Trump. Either they were in it for themselves, or they are completely ignorant. That’s it. If anything, ignorant is an understatement. Most Republicans stood by a person who hurt others based off race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. And you have the audacity to cry over someone calling them merely ignorant? Like that’s the worst thing? I guess you think it makes you better that you don’t judge on political party, but doesn’t that just make you complacent if the crimes they stood by. Maybe if you got off your high horse, you would see that what most Republicans allowed is unforgivable for so many that it hurt. Just because you have the privilege to overlook what Republicans stood by, doesn’t mean we all do. Ignorant Republicans is an understatement. That would be like calling the Nazis who stood by Hitler ignorant. For too many, it’s worse than that. But sure, talk about name calling, like that’s the big problem here. It must be nice to live in such a delusional world. Too bad it doesn’t exist for everyone.

              • Heather

        • Michael Grasseschi

          So true-!! Thank you


    Damn I’m glad you wrote this. My feelings exactly. I want my party back. But right now I just want no hate. I’m so tired of the hate. I have good intelligent friends who still believe the election was rigged and they hate. Also I do not understand however Ted Cruz (What a Puss) who’s wife was called ugly by Trump can still be under Trump’s spell. Unfortunately the spineless, gutless Pussy’s in congress have to get off the Trump bus or just go away.
    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you

  • Tara

    Hear hear!

  • just me

    Thoughtful, honest, painful.

  • Fred Gernandt

    Exposing the myth. A collaborative effort of unity is nearly 100 million votes away. Hope the solution does not involve lead.

  • Laurie

    Love you, love this, love mostly every single thing you write.
    But when you wrote: “They tell us “The insurrectionists do not represent the GOP” five minutes before they vote against the material manifestation that the insurrectionists do not represent the GOP (see: impeachment).”
    did you mean to write “They tell us “The insurrectionists do not represent the GOP” five minutes before they vote against the material manifestation that the insurrectionists DO represent the GOP (see: impeachment).”
    Or am I getting hung up on a double negative in there?

    • Heather Burge

      Laurie, I was wondering the very same thing!

    • deirdrebeth

      I know this is old, but yes Laurie, Heather – you’re missing the important negative 🙂

      They say (they) do not represent…
      before they vote *against*
      the (proof) that (they) do not represent…

      For the second section to be DO represent it would have to be some version of “their vote proves that”

      – Hopefully that makes it clearer! –

  • Judith Wigren

    Hell yeah! You always say exactly What I’m feeling. My friend wants to join Braver Angels so we can “unify”. How can I sing kumbuya with these low life’s that embraced this big psychopath?

  • Sarah

    You are 100% right. I have no idea why everyone is super happy as I am still worried. There is going to be way more weird $hit that happens due to these nutters. This level of crazy doesn’t just cry and go home after losing, they double down and refine their strategies.

    • Loralee Swab

      Yes. Absolutely. I totally agree.

  • Dani

    YESYESYESYESYESYESYES. This is 100% exactly correct. Damn straight, Janelle.

  • Monica Taft

    You wrote a thing all right, you wrote a damn fine thing. Thank you for saying what is not only on my mind, but in my heart. The work has just begun here and I hope we some results.

  • Liz

    YES. so perfectly said. Thankful for you and your words.

  • Michaela

    My thoughts, precisely!! Only you took the time, effort, and skill to write them down!

  • Beth

    Ive been a subscriber to your blog for many reasons over the years (and of course read your book a few times). Because let’s face it, there’s no denying your knack. I read it because you make me laugh….like spitting beverage out in public kind of laugh, And I NEED TO LAUGH. Between you and my local dispensary, I’m good,

    Thank you, Janelle

  • Lorain

    I think I wrote that you “Nailed it,” on Facebook. Here I can say, “Fuckin’ A!” I agree with every point you made, and you made them so well. Thank you, Janelle.

  • Jessica

    You know what is so incredible about this piece of writing? That you have the right to share these thoughts and feelings without someone targeting you as a psycho or a traitor to your country. I’m not sure why we are talking about these things still – the very things that divide us – and not talking about the things that should indeed unite us. Like censorship. You’re a writer. I’m hoping to hear how you feel about censorship…

  • Kat

    I’m so happy my husband and I left the US with our children when it still had the resemblance of a normal country, pre-Trump. Raising children in the US is basically like playing Russian Roulette or Hunger Games. If some dumb ass driver speeding down the highway on his cell phone doesn’t get you, it would possibly be a bullet, but for sure the shit food that is so disgustingly prevalent. And the politics? Forget it. You can’t even have a normal, open discussion, as is proved here on the comment board. From both sides. Everyone is so PASSIONATE about their particular beliefs, whether it is politics, religion, guns, abortion, peanut products in schools. America is over. The dysfunction is so deeply ingrained, it will take generations to undo the damages.

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