President Joe Biden gave his first speech to a Joint Session of Congress on Wednesday night. As a Democrat, there were many things I liked about his speech. In addition to the president’s temperament and his soft-spoken delivery, it was refreshing to hear someone who had the bravery to describe white supremacy as what it really is — domestic terrorism and to let the trans youth in the LGBTQ community know that he has his back.
It was also refreshing to hear a president praise the other political party, Republicans, for legislation they are putting forth on areas where he felt there could be bipartisan support; and for two people to be seated behind the president who were both women. Yes, it took 245 years to get here, but it happened.
Overall, the president delivered a message about hope and the possibilities that can happen when we work together.
As a Democratic strategist here are my top three favorite proposals that President Biden put forth in his speech on Wednesday night.
Like many Americans, I favor the American Jobs Plan and love the idea of building the things our country needs in Pittsburgh rather than Beijing.
I also love the American Families Plan, which most Americans support, especially Universal Pre-K and Paid Family Leave. But my three favorite Biden proposals were all in areas that I feel need the most attention. Here’s my list:
After the last presidential election last year in November, there have been battles in various states and within both parties about voting. Some, on the right, think there was widespread voter fraud (although not proven) and want to make voting more difficult. There are currently 361 bills nationwide supported by Republicans which many, especially on the left, view as voter suppression bills.
President Biden spoke of the urgency on Wednesday night with regard to voter rights. He said: “If we are to truly restore the soul of America — we need to protect the sacred right to vote.”
Shouldn’t voting be a right and something we celebrate not attack?
Together, these bills would restore the full protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1964, expand voter registration, voter access, limit removing voters from the voter rolls, establish independent redistricting commissions, sets forth provisions to improve election security and address campaign finance.
Passing these two pieces of legislation would certainly be getting into the “Good Trouble” that John Lewis the late civil rights activist and longtime member of Congress spoke of.
There have been 147 mass shootings this year.
That means more than 1 mass shooting per day has occurred in 2021. President Biden said: “I will do everything in my power to protect the American people from this epidemic of gun violence, but it’s time for Congress to act as well.” He went on to say, “This should not be a red or blue issue…this is an American issue.” And he is right.
Nationwide voters are nearly united in support for expanded background checks. According to a Morning Consult poll, 84% of voters, including 77% of Republicans, support requiring all gun purchasers to go through a background check. And a majority support bans on high-capacity magazines (64%) and assault-style weapons (63%).
As the president said (my favorite line of the night), “You think deer are wearing Kevlar vests?”
The president is right, Congress needs to act; this has the support of the voters.
According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, 6 in 10 Americans say the country should do more to hold police accountable for mistreatment of Black people.
President Biden spoke of images most of us will never forget saying: “We have all seen the knee of injustice on the neck of Black Americans. Now is the opportunity to make real progress on this issue. The vast majority of those wearing the badge serve our communities honorably. I know they want to help meet this moment as well.”
He went on to say: “If we have the courage to act, to rebuild trust, root out systemic racism we can enact police reform in George Floyd’s name by the first anniversary of his death.”
The poll cited above not only shows that most Americans support greater scrutiny of police but it also finds concerns over the treatment of Black Americans and other minorities by the criminal justice system. Those have been concerns dating back to 1988, but they have spiked after Floyd’s murder.
I enjoyed the president’s speech on Wednesday night, liked his ideas and proposals and have already outlined my top three above. But here’s what else I liked… I liked how Biden spoke of action versus inaction. “Doing nothing is not an option,” he said.
And I liked that the president reminded us how great we are: “It’s never ever been a good bet to bet against America, and it still isn’t. We’re the United States of America…we can do whatever we set our minds to if we do it together. So let’s begin to get together. … America is an idea-unique in the world. We are all created equal. It’s who we are. We cannot walk away from that principle.”
Those words gave me hope because the president reminded us of who we are and what truly is possible when we come together as a nation.