minow1_Jodi HiltonNurPhoto via Getty Images_protests US Jodi Hilton/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Can Americans Forgive One Another?

After unprecedented attacks on political norms and the basic pillars of democracy, one might think that America's political turmoil could not get much worse. But it can, particularly if attacks on the rule of law and the mobilization of partisan antipathy continue to escalate.

CAMBRIDGE – As someone who often writes about law and forgiveness, I have been receiving many queries lately. Should President-elect Joe Biden pardon President Donald Trump? Should pandemic-era debts be forgiven? Should the United States establish a truth and reconciliation commission to heal national divisions?

These questions do not have obvious answers, especially when such difficult times still lie ahead. But wrestling with them may yield valuable guidance for the near term and beyond.

Let’s start with the basics: In addition to surging COVID-19 infections and the pandemic’s attendant economic hardships, the US is seething with resentment and division. Donald Trump, the lame-duck president, openly speculates about pardoning himself, and has raised vast sums of money on the false claim that Biden owes his victory to widespread electoral fraud. Already, people have sent the Trump campaign more than $200 million to fund his effort to overturn the election result.

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