Former President Gerald Ford came to mind Wednesday night as I watched President Joe Biden address a joint session of Congress. Following the tumultuous years of Watergate, and the continual stonewalling by President Richard Nixon, there was a sense in the nation that Ford was precisely the type of grounded adult who was best suited for the needs of the time.
After the self-created, and never-ceasing chaos of Donald Trump, there was also a need for change. The nation simply demanded reasoned and mature leadership be returned to the Oval Office. In a national address to a joint session of Congress Biden provided more evidence that he is delivering on his campaign promise to bring the nation back to a place where the shouting and bombast are replaced with listening and working.
There is no doubt that Biden has a full agenda ahead of him as he made clear in the televised speech. The $6.1 trillion worth of programming and investments that he is promoting is a most daunting task. But when the American Rescue Plan, the American Jobs Plan, and the American Family Plan are examined two things clearly emerge. First, they are, as polling demonstrates, what the nation supports. Secondly, the issues outlined in the plans reflect the needs that have too long existed but never found a resolution.
The nation knows that power grids are failing too often, bridges are crumbling, schools need updating, and the lives of ordinary Americans need to be lifted up and made better. From tackling pre-school kindergarten to get our youth better prepared to learn, provide an infusion of cash for Pell Grants which would allow two free years of technical school, bolster Black colleges, and provide a national paid family and medical leave program there is an energetic agenda waiting for action.
As Biden reminded voters, time and again during the campaign, the role of governing is about getting things done for the people.
None of these programs are wild-eyed or out of step in this nation, but rather building upon the foundations that have already been established. As with medical leave or repairing bridges the topics are not new, but only need a determined Congress to act on them.
Troubling for Republicans is the fact much of what has been proposed, be it the programs or the means to pay for them, has strong support from the nation. Placing a higher taxing requirement for the wealthy in the nation so to support society’s needs is not out of the mainstream. In fact, that sentiment is smack dab in the middle of the mindset of the voters.
Biden has a much better chance to prevail with large portions of his plans than his detractors realize due to the fact he finds himself in the Oval Office following his predecessor’s most bizarre term. A bombastic and ego-driven character has been replaced with a president who plans to govern. The citizenry is watching and wanting the trains to operate on time, for the congress to do more than just shout to their side of the aisle.
Biden’s personality and good reputation are why I thought of Ford while watching the address. Ford had a measured and folksy style when speaking and Biden used calm and conversational qualities as he spoke to the nation. We all gravitate towards men and women who are essentially good people who strive to do the work of government. As such Biden has more goodwill among the citizenry for action that is designed to benefit the nation as a whole. That is a major reason he will have a strong hand going forward with his agenda.
Stability and reason are again in control from the White House. That was well reflected as Biden addressed the nation. Those traits will serve him, and the nation well, as we move forward.