While accepting my party’s nomination for president of the United States last August, Joseph R. Biden made a promise to the American people: “While I'll be a Democratic candidate, I will be an American president. I'll work hard for those who didn't support me, as hard for them as I did for those who did vote for me. That's the job of a president, to represent all of us, not just our base or our party.”
A little under two months into his term, President Biden is delivering on that promise. The American Rescue Plan that Biden signed into law last week is perhaps the most popular piece of major legislation in modern American history. A poll released earlier this month suggested that even 59% of Republicans support the legislation.
While the bill didn’t receive a single Republican vote, Republicans are already touting the benefits of the bill to their constituents. Much to the dismay of many on my side of the aisle, Senator Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi)—who voted against the bill—tweeted out about his advocacy and support for the plan’s $29 billion in direct relief to restaurants whose sales have plummeted in the past year.
When I ran for the United States Congress in Tennessee this past year in one of the reddest and most rural districts in the nation, Republican small business and restaurant owners were the most vocal to me about the need for government aid to keep their business afloat.
It’s a conservative principle at play: the government (rightly) told businesses to shut down their operations, so the government should foot the bill. This isn’t welfare. It’s basic fairness. This new grant money can help struggling restaurants like the venerable City Cafe in my hometown of Murfreesboro—Tennessee’s oldest restaurant—stay solvent until better times arrive.
And here’s the good news. Good times are coming a lot sooner than we expected. President Biden is operating on a smart conservative business principle—underpromise and overdeliver. Before his inauguration, President Biden promised 100 million vaccines would be administered by his 100th day. That'll be achieved in 60 days. Earlier this month, his Administration promised $1400 checks would begin delivery by March 31. That process actually began last weekend.
This is contrasted by former President Trump’s braggadocious promises that never came to fruition. This week was the one year anniversary of the start of President Trump’s fifteen days to slow the spread. And President Biden’s nuanced goals of having small gatherings by Independence Day 2021 is clearly more achievable than Trump’s March 24, 2020 promise to have “packed churches” and a fully open economy by Easter.
When I was running for office, I made a simple promise to the people of Tennessee that my highest loyalty wouldn’t be to a party or a politician, but to our nation and to their families. Though I got the most votes of any Democratic challenger for Congress ever in this state, the majority of Republican voters still believed that Joe Biden and Congress would be beholden to the most radical elements in our movement.
But after two months on the job, the proof’s in the pudding—the leader of my party and the commander of the chief of this nation is beholden to no man and to only one woman. Republicans, Democrats, and every American can thank God for that.
Christopher Hale was the 2020 Democratic nominee for the United States Congress in Tennessee's 4th congressional district.