Editorial: Hitting the “Reset Button”

A New Year and a new administration offer a chance to stem our growing division


Photo by Jeff Pape.

Biden’s arrival to the White House gives us a chance to hit the “reset button” on the partisanship that has characterized the past four years.

Jeff Pape and Katie Kempff

The time surrounding New Year’s offers a convenient chance to reflect upon the events of the past year and plan ahead for the coming weeks and months. January provides a sort of trial-run period for new habits and routines that we feel may bring us closer to our big goals. At its core, this time is a metaphorical “reset button” for our lives.  

Boy, do we need that as a country right about now.  

We are firmly entrenched in one of the most difficult periods in American history. For the past ten months, our country has fought a losing battle against an insidious and invisible foe in COVID-19. As of the time of writing, over 439,000 people nationwide have lost their lives to this virus. We have faced outcries from countless advocacy groups, whose pronouncements are beginning to expose systemic racism in our laws. And just a few weeks ago, political extremists announced a new threat to our democracy when they stormed the Capitol building.  

To be clear, the arrival of the New Year doesn’t mean we can magically wash away these issues. The division surrounding the pandemic, racial inequality, and domestic terrorism is real and cannot be ignored out of a desire to “reset.”  

That being said, the beginning of 2021 does give us an opportunity to reset our approach to these problems; in tackling them, we can choose to be united, instead of divided.  

President Joe Biden propounded this message repeatedly during his inauguration speech. On January 20, Biden pleaded with Americans to “see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors” and swore to be a leader for the whole country, not just his party–words that signal a sharp contrast between him and his predecessor.  

Over the past four years, Democrats and Republicans both seem to have gained vigor as the schism between them widened. Politicians launched more and more personal attacks on one another as loyalty to each party strengthened, often resulting in Congressional gridlock.  

Outside of Washington, these developments were mirrored in the growing sense among the public that being “liberal” or “conservative” was not just part of your identity; it was your entire identity. For many, to be cordial with anyone who held different political beliefs was an act of treason. President Trump himself often stoked these flames of partisanship by warning his followers of the spiritual death of the country should the opposition gain too much power. In a nation founded on the principles of debate and compromise, this sentiment is extremely dangerous.  

There is hope, however, that a new year and a new administration could slow, or perhaps even reverse, our growing division. A metaphorical “reset button,” if you will. The previous administration seemed to be more focused on stirring up conflict and discord rather than finding common ground. President Biden’s calls for the restoration of unity, dignity, and honor to American politics are a breath of fresh air for those of us who have felt suffocated by the recent infighting. By following his example of empathetic and kind leadership, we can work collaboratively with our fellow countrymen to overcome our differences. 

So as we look ahead to the rest of 2021, remember the opportunity we have before us. The past four years, and especially the last nine months, have seen us grow farther and farther apart. But we now have the chance to stem that tide, to come together as one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.