President Joe Biden has been in office just over two months, and he has gone from promise to actual change. The American Rescue Plan has put money in working people’s pockets. His COVID-19 response has delivered 100 million vaccinations ahead of schedule.
These two accomplishments together are the ultimate expression of “public health creates economic health,” an investment in the people who truly make this country great.
Imagine observing all of this from a totally outside perspective. This looks like forward movement so necessary that it is impossible to criticize the goal. Unfortunately, criticizing for criticism’s sake and obstruction are synonymous with today’s Republicans. A prime example: not a single GOP lawmaker voted for the American Rescue Plan, despite recognizing its many benefits.
There has been much discussion about Biden’s call for unity. Invariably, when a Republican uses the word, it is weaponized. They call for “unity” when they don’t get their way so they can hurt the President politically.
At the same time, the GOP never acts in a way that promotes unity.
Unfortunately, this goes beyond simple obstruction. Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed the For the People Act. It expands voter registration, limits removing voters from voter rolls, requires states to establish nonpartisan redistricting commissions to combat gerrymandering and strengthens election security. It recognizes that democracy works best when it is expanded and extended to as many people as possible.
Sadly, this bill is required to combat the very real threat the modern-day Republican Party poses to democracy. Georgia has just passed a law a bill so restrictive of voting rights that it makes a literal crime of giving food or water to a voter waiting in line. It’s only the beginning – our own legislature is considering a similar provision. The list of bills trying to silence your voice has only grown.
Gone are the days of good faith, policy-based debates between two healthy parties.
What do I see?
I see one party that actually stands with the people, and the other fights these initiatives in the name of “freedom” and “patriotism” to make it palatable to their supporters.
This is an untenable situation. So, I have a question for my Republican friends: how can you continually and actively suppress voting, the very expression of democracy and still call yourselves Americans.
Unity is a tool for progress, not a weapon. Unity means working toward the same goal. Unity incorporates multiple points of view in crafting policy. Unity signals to Americans that people in power value the country more than their position.
The health of our democracy is directly correlated with the health of our two political parties. I’m all for unity, but the last time I checked, the Democrats are in control of the White House, the Senate and the House. We face important issues beyond this pandemic – immigration and gun control legislation come immediately to mind.
These issues require unity, but they also require leadership. Democrats: the American people put us in charge, so let’s come together and make sure that our democracy not only survives, but thrives.
Ken Evans is Broward County Democratic state Committeeman; co-chair FDP Clubs, Organizations and Caucuses and a DNC member (2017-2020).