Joe Biden: Coercive Restoration is Also Abuse

Time for a little quiz.

Which of the following sentences has Joe Biden said in the last 4 days and which is from your abusive ex and the relatives who enabled his behavior by insisting that you ignore it, downplay it, accept it, or forgive it–or else you are the one who is wrong?

  • “You don’t want to be the reason we are broken.”
  • “You wouldn’t hurt your family by hanging on to this, would you?
  • “Let bygones by bygones.”
  • “Everyone goes through difficult times, but only you get to choose how you respond to them.”
  • “You’re going to have to get over this so we can all move on. Your bad feelings are holding us all hostage.”
  • “Whatever happened in the past, you have to be able to work together for the sake of the family.”
  • “In the end, we have to come together, or else we don’t have anything.”
  • “Unite.”
  • “The Bible tells us that to everything there is a season – a time to build, a time to reap, a time to sow, and a time to heal. This is the time to heal in America.”
  • “Let’s give each other a chance.”
  • “We need to see each other again, listen to each other again.”
  • “To make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as enemies.”

You can find the precise answers here, but if you hadn’t heard how Joe Biden sounds in the ears of those of us who long warned that Trump patterned his presidency on domestic violence, here it now: Joe Biden is acting as an enabler of abuse. 

You may have been reminded of how narcissists, sociopaths, and other abusers respond to their abuse being challenged in recent Facebook posts, like this one:

Above, a post from Josh Haazard says “Watch out, in the coming days, for the abusers playbook. Requests for unity and forgiveness without any apology or acknowledgment of harms caused. followed by blaming anyone who doesn’t want to make nice with those who’ve caused pain.”

This post suggests that it will be Trump supporters who insist on reconciliation with remorse, repentance, or restoration. After all, it’s been Trump supporters who have been the ones abusing others these last 4 years.

While that may be true in some interpersonal cases (Your father who voted for Trump invites you to a holiday meal as if you want to celebrate the birth of Jesus with someone who supports putting refugee babies in cages.), it has been Joe Biden, not Mitch McConnell, who has been calling for coerced unity over honest division. 

Biden is not Trump, the nation’s abusive father. Biden is more like the mother who insists that you maintain a relationship with your narcissistic, bullying, abusive father. 

If your feelings of celebration about the Biden-Harris win are fading fast, if they are being replaced by the sinking sense that there will be no justice for the wrongs inflicted on so many and that you will be asked to once expose yourself to abuse, those feelings are justified. 

Biden is signaling in every speech that he wants us to see each other as fellow citizens who care about each other and are mutually invested in the nation’s success. But 67 million of us hold to or accept Nazi ideology (and the difference between holding and accepting is irrelevant when you vote for a Nazi)–and they don’t see you as a fellow citizen, and they don’t accept “the nation” as it is. In fact, they hate America as it is. It’s why they wanted to make it great “again”–because they hate what we are (a racially, ethnically, religiously diverse nation) and yearn for what they imagine we once were (ruled by white men). 

Any push for reconciliation between those who love justice and those who support Trump is immoral. There can be no reconciliation unless Trump supporters change. And then there would be no Trump supporters to reconcile with.

Any attempt will also be ineffective, as Trump supporters do not want reconciliation; they want to dominate. 

And the scolding to make nice do long-term harm. Remember that Biden was named VP in part to soothe over white anxiety about a Black president. The anger and violence that erupted with Trump rose under Obama and Biden, unchecked because they chose to gloss over the deep fractures in our society rather than address them. When their opponents went low, they went high–but they should have gone low, to where the people’s anger was building, and addressed it, rather than pretending that the difference that matters was in decorum. Even now, Biden is calling us to “marshal the forces of decency.” But we need forces for justice, not decency.  Justice is scandalous, not decent. 

Biden quoted from Ecclesiastes in his acceptance speech. Instead, we needed to hear from 2 Corinthians 6:14: “What do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”

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