It’s been four months since the violent pro-Trump insurrection at our nation’s Capitol. Four months. It seems astonishing that this country can look so steady when it was teetering on the brink of autocracy just 126 days ago.
In his first address to Congress, 100 days into his presidency, Joe Biden showed a determination to steer the nation decisively away from chaos, focusing instead on stable, principled leadership and goals that would benefit every American.
After four years of presidential tirades heavy on self-aggrandizing delusions, fearmongering and vindictiveness, it was heartening to hear complete sentences, complex ideas and coherent plans. Biden’s speech, for most of the country, was an hour-long sigh of relief.
An Ipsos snap poll found nearly 73 percent of Americans approved of his remarks, and a majority of respondents — 60 percent or more — supported the proposals he outlined:
• 76 percent agree that America can’t let its guard down against the pandemic;
• 69 percent support requiring employers to give 12 weeks paid family and medical leave;
• 66 percent support the American Jobs Plan;
• 65 percent support making up to two years of community college free;
• 65 percent support tax increases for the wealthiest Americans (earning over $400,000 a year);
• 63 percent agree that white supremacy is terrorism (81 percent of Democrats agree; depressingly, only 45 percent of Republicans say the same);
• 63 percent support lifting the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour; and
• 60 percent support passing a comprehensive immigration bill with a pathway to citizenship.
The post-address Ipsos poll looked at the president’s proposals, not at his administration’s remarkably successful COVID vaccine strategy, but Biden noted it has far outstripped expectations. Americans have received 200 million vaccinations since he took office — double his initial goal of 100 million shots in 100 days and “an incredible achievement for the nation,” he said. In stark contrast to Trump’s chaotic, politicized bungling of the pandemic response, Biden has succeeded in a massive demonstration of how compassionate, constructive federal intervention can change lives for the better — and save them. The national COVID strategy is a prime example of the active government Biden favors: humane, pragmatic, and intent on steadying the ship.
In addition to his call for an overhaul of the immigration system, Biden urged Congress to take action on climate change, pass new laws to tighten background checks on gun purchases, and pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
“America is moving — moving forward. And we can’t stop now,” he said. “We’re in a great inflection point in history. We have to do more than just build back. We have to build back better.”
Republicans have reacted with panic to the popularity of Biden’s proposals and the progress unfolding before them. Instead of promoting policy ideas, they’re rushing to restrict voting, outlaw protesting and advance the Big Lie.
But Biden, who secured passage of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package despite opposition from Republicans, made clear he’s not waiting around for them. “I just want to be clear,” he said, “from my perspective, doing nothing is not an option.”
“We have to prove democracy still works,” he added, “that our government still works — and can deliver for the people.”
Biden has made it clear he’s focused on governing for the people. In his address, we saw a steady hand, a lack of appetite for manufactured drama, and a readiness to use government not only to rebuild the country, but to level the social, legal and economic playing field for all Americans. After four years of cruelty, incompetence and upheaval, it’s exactly what we need.