Although it is August and I, like many of the French, take August off, I had to jump in and write a post. I woke up to the news that the Senate had passed, 51-50, the sweeping bill now called the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 addressing climate change, health care, the national debt, and many more things. Every morning, I get an e-mail entitled ‘Letters from an American‘ written by Heather Cox Richardson. (Anyone can subscribe free to her posts on Substack: https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/august-7-2022 ). Ms Richardson describes herself this way: “I’m a history professor interested in the contrast between image and reality in American politics. I believe in American democracy, despite its frequent failures.”
I have been mystified by the consistent reporting that Biden’s popularity is so low, in the 38% range. Democrat Nation loved him when he won the election. He inherited a horror show (my words) from the former president. Senator Tim Kaine visited Paris and Democrats Abroad and told us how Biden managed to get Europe to join America in preparing for the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. At the time, Europe was hedging bets that Russia was just bluffing. Biden’s administration was sure he was not. He got European countries to listen to him by saying that he hoped they were right but, just in case, wouldn’t it be nice (my words) if there was a plan in place that could be executed immediately upon an invasion. All agreed to that – even Turkey who probably would not have agreed if the invasion had already taken place. Brilliant, I thought to myself. Had I read about this in the papers? No? It must not be exciting enough news.
Ms Richardson writes this about Biden and Democracy: “In the past 18 months, Democrats have rebuilt the economy after the pandemic shattered it, invested in technology and science, expanded the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to stand against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, eliminated al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, pulled troops out of Afghanistan, passed the first gun safety law in almost 30 years, put a Black woman on the Supreme Court, reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, addressed the needs of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits, and invested in our roads, bridges, and manufacturing. And for much of this program, they have managed to attract Republican votes.
Now they are turning to lowering the cost of prescription drugs—long a priority—and tackling climate change, all while lowering the deficit.
Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne noted accurately today that what these measures do is far more than the sum of their parts. They show Americans that democracy is messy and slow but that it works, and it works for them. Since he took office, this has been President Joe Biden’s argument: he would head off the global drive toward authoritarianism by showing that democracy is still the best system of government out there.
At a time when authoritarians are trying to demonstrate that democracies cannot function nearly as effectively as the rule of an elite few, he is proving them wrong.”
The passing of this bill in the Senate is exciting. All expect that the bill will have no trouble in the House. It is inspiring to other countries, like France, who want Democracy.
I’ve been reading these ‘Letters from an American ‘for quite awhile. If you would like to read about day to day goings on without the hysterics, the hyperbole, without the ‘screaming at you’ from much of the media, I refer you to Heather Cox Richardson. If you don’t like it, you can always unsubscribe.
6 thoughts on ““Letters from an American””
Thank you for this, Sara. So much of the focus in the media has been on Biden’s poor poll numbers and the high price of gas. Also, the obsession with whether Biden will run again in 2024. Of course Biden can’t announce he will not run again and become a lame duck! Biden’s accomplishments have been considerable and keep adding up. Exiting Afghanistan was a mess–but no war ends well and Trump negotiated the terms. Slow and steady progress has been made. I wish there were a way I could share your observations with others. This is the messaging the Democratic Party needs to get out.
You certainly could forward my blog to others. But I think you mean on a bigger scale. If you think of something, I’m the first in line to help!!!
Nice job, Sara! I also recommend her brilliant book, How the South Won the Civil War (2020)–essential reading to understand our current political world. And it’s available on Audible!
Do you pay for your subscription to Letters? I’d like to send her this blog (I also post on Substack) but you can only leave comments as a paying member.
I will second the shoutout for HCR. I read her daily letter on Facebook. She also does two livestream events most weeks (catch the recorded session on YouTube). I particularly appreciate her historian’s perspective versus just another opinion writer. So much we didn’t get in primary school history class!
Dr. Richardson is an absolute gold mine when it comes to concisely and correctly giving us the daily news all while comparing to past history. And, she always lists where all sources come from. I read her letters daily. I honestly do not know how she continues her hectic schedule (although she is on sabbatical from Boston College right now I believe). If only those who need to read her letters would.