The President's Column: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Are Cleaning Up Trump’s Mess

May 11, 2021

ggresham_520_feat.jpgShortly after his election in 2008, President Barack Obama famously responded to Republican attacks on the Affordable Care Act by reminding the opposition that “elections have consequences.” Indeed, they do.

We will never forget the consequences of Donald Trump’s election: the devastation of our public health; the degradation of our environment; and the decimation of our civil rights and democracy. Though it is still quite early in the administration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris—just four months after inauguration––we already feel the difference from the past four years. And it feels a lot better. A lot better.

Biden has appointed actual infectious disease experts and epidemiologists to curtail COVID-19. Confronting the pandemic is now being treated as confronting a public health crisis instead of political point scoring. This White House, unlike its predecessor, views the country’s 30 million cases and more than 500,000 deaths as tragedy, many of which could have been prevented had the disease been treated seriously a year ago. Most importantly, the vaccines are now beginning to flow, seriously reducing infection rates. Soon every adult will be able to be vaccinated.

In the meantime, the administration and our Democratic led Congress have pushed through a nearly $2 trillion COVID-19 aid package, The American Rescue Act, putting thousands of dollars directly into the hands of working people, whose livelihoods have been ravaged by the pandemic. Also included are a new unemployment relief package and billions of dollars to our states and cities to make up for lost revenue for schools, health care and other essential needs.

This is a sharp contrast to the consequences of an earlier election: Donald Trump gave $1.5 trillion tax breaks for corporations and wealthy individuals.

And after four years of open hostility to workers’ rights and unions, the Biden White House immediately cleaned house at the National Labor Relations Board and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, sacking anti-labor corporate proxies and replacing them with worker friendly officials. And unlike his predecessor, President Biden isn’t full of bluster. Amid the massive Amazon union organizing drive in Alabama, Biden did not mince words: “Unions put power in the hands of workers.

They level the playing field. They give you a stronger voice for your health, your safety, higher wages, protections from racial discrimination and sexual harassment. Unions lift up workers, both union and nonunion, but especially Black and Brown workers.” (Eighty percent of the Amazon workforce in the Alabama plant is Black, and most are women.) And Biden warned employers:

“There should be no intimidation, no coercion, no threats, no anti-union propaganda. No supervisor should confront employees about their union references. Every worker should have a free and fair choice to join a union.

The law guarantees that choice. And it’s your right, not that of an employer. It’s your right.”

Unlike the previous administration, which devoted considerable effort to undermining and dismantling civil rights and voting rights, the Biden-Harris team has pledged to prioritize, expand, uphold, and enforce these rights.

It has also directed the Pentagon and Justice Department to weed out white supremacists and other fascist-minded personnel from their ranks. The first months of the administration have been devoted to undoing the racism—both in policies and personnel—of the last four years. While Republican-dominated states are busily trying to pass more than 250 voter-suppression bills, primarily aimed at Black and young voters—keep this in mind when you hear talk about non-existent voter fraud—the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives has already passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to remove barriers to the ballot box. Whether it passes the Senate will depend on eliminating the segregation-era filibuster rules.

Across the board—whether it’s defending immigrant rights, protecting the environment against the ravages of climate change, or protecting and enhancing public education—the contrasts between the Trump and Biden Administration could not be sharper. So indeed, elections do have consequences.

I know that you, our 1199 family, understands this as well as anybody. We know that elections are not a spectator sport. We only get the consequences we desire if we work our behinds off. We are forever grateful for all your canvassing and phone-banking—and particularly for this year’s remote work. And not just in presidential elections, but in every year. Every year, we have local or state elections throughout our Union that help determine the quality of our lives. And we always count on you. I want to pay a special tribute to those of you who continue to contribute to our Martin Luther King, Jr. Political Action Fund. Thank you so much. You are an inspiration.

1199 Magazine | April / May 2021