Biden Asked Republicans to Give Him a Chance. They're Not Interested.
Mon - November 16, 2020
Jeanie Smith reads from the Bible during a Sunday service at the Spring Street Gospel Church in Mason, Texas, on Nov. 8, 2020. (Tamir Kalifa/The New York Times)
MASON, Texas — The change at the Sunday prayer service was so subtle it went unnoticed by several congregants. Tucked in between calls for divine health and wisdom, the Rev. Fred Krebs of St. Paul Lutheran Church, who rarely brings up politics, fleetingly mentioned this month’s presidential election.
“We pray for a peaceful transition,” he told his congregation of 50 people. The carefully chosen words underscored the political reality in Mason, Texas — a rural, conservative town of roughly 2,000 people — after Joe Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump.
Not everyone thought the election was over, and not everyone said they would respect the results.
“My Democratic friends think Biden is going to heal everything and unify everyone,” said Jeanie Smith, who attends the more conservative Spring Street Gospel Church in Mason, which is about 100 miles west of Austin. “They are deceived.
“Now you want healing,” she added. “Now you want to come together. You have not earned it.”
That is the hard reality Biden is facing, even after winning a race in which he secured a larger share of the popular vote than any challenger since 1932. Towering before him is a wall of Republican resistance, starting with Trump’s refusal to concede, extending to GOP lawmakers’ reluctance to acknowledge his victory and stretching — perhaps most significantly for U.S. politics in the long term — to ordinary voters who steadfastly deny the election’s outcome.
It is all a far cry from how Biden framed this election, from the Democratic primary race through his victory speech last weekend. He cast the moment as a chance for the country to excise the political division Trump has stoked, promising to repair the ideological, racial and geographic fissures that have grown into chasms since 2016. Announcing his campaign, he called it an opportunity to restore “the soul of the nation.” Last weekend, he declared, “Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end here and now.”