Are things really going to turn around under a new President? Hard to say for sure. America’s deep divisions aren’t going to be healed overnight or even in one term, but party leaders can certainly try to model the sort of good faith debates and exchanges that can set a new path forward. And it looks like inauguration day will at least start off on that foot, as president-elect Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plan to start Wednesday at church together.
It’s a surprising move, for sure. McConnell has spent the last four years as one of President Donald Trump’s political champions, and spent years before that as one of President Barack Obama’s bitterest foes. CNN reports that Biden invited McConnell to a Wednesday morning Mass, with Biden — who will be just the second Catholic President in U.S. history — attends nearly every Sunday. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy will apparently also be joining Biden at Mass, along with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Even more notably, the Republican leadership attending Mass with Biden will be skipping Trump’s planned military-style departure ceremony to make church on time.
Both Biden and McConnell built their early reputations as bipartisan dealmakers, but times have changed a lot since the two rose through the political ranks. Still McConnell has softly signaled that he might be interested in turning down the volume a little, roundly blaming Trump for the deadly insurrectionist mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. It remains to be seen whether these words will lead to real change and a new era of across-the-aisle cooperation.