To the editor:
In his speech to Congress on April 28, President Biden asserted that “we the people” are “the government. You and I.” With this proclamation he intends for the nation to turn away from the course it adopted when Ronald Reagan declared government the “problem” at our doorstep. Biden reminds us that the people have power—that government can be good or bad, effective or ineffective, according to the choices the people make in their votes for representation.
We the people — never united in our views, of course — allowed the Reaganite standards to dominate economic and political life until the hint of a course correction in Obama’s 2008 election, which produced the significant Tea Party backlash two years later. Trump’s election and the unification of a radical Republican party generated a surge of counter activism that led the country to a different choice. People power, ever stirring and always in tension with its differences, now pushes President Biden to think big.
Biden’s ambitious agenda — the passed COVID relief bill, the proposed American Jobs and Families Plans — aims to harness government to meet people’s essential needs, neglected far too long: new jobs built on a response to climate change; economic equality that restores a thriving and broad-based middle class; racial justice that creates equal opportunities for building wealth and lives lived in safety and respect; subsidies for health care, child care, and education that give everyone a better chance to lead healthy, happy, productive lives. If Biden’s proposed legislation passes, even in part, radical Republicans in Congress will find it difficult to convince Americans that government cannot work to serve the people’s needs.
We the people do have the power and the instrument — if we speak up, speak out, act. Pressure our representatives, campaign, vote. We can make our government work for us, the people.