Learning from the Biden-Harris Campaign of 2020
Updated: Apr 29
The webcast we’re releasing today features Josh Dickson, who was National Faith Engagement Director for the Biden-Harris campaign. Josh explains how the Biden-Harris campaign reached out to faith communities more than prior Democratic presidential campaigns had done. He also shows that the shift of some religious voters to Biden in several swing states arguably won the White House.
During the campaign, Bread for the World was working with the other church groups in the Circle of Protection coalition to get presidential candidates to talk about what they would do to provide opportunity for people in poverty. I got to know Josh in the process of asking Biden to make a general-election statement about poverty. We were delighted that he made a strong speech at a digital rally of the Poor People’s Campaign. The three big pieces of legislation he has proposed to Congress this year were outlined in that speech.
Bread for the World works in a bipartisan way. But when I stopped serving as Bread’s principal spokesperson, I endorsed Biden and did some work for the campaign, Trump’s policies and rhetoric were harsh toward poor and vulnerable people. On the other hand, Biden had a serious plan to move us out of the pandemic in a way that would lead to less poverty and injustice than we put up with before.
People who want to make U.S. politics friendlier toward people of color and low-income people need to rally around progressive legislation and, even now, get to work on the 2022 election.
We need to convince Congress to move forward with all three of the big legislative plans of President Biden’s first 100 days. The American Rescue Plan Act has already passed - sadly, without one Republican vote. It is doing more for people in poverty than any legislation in decades. The focus is emergency assistance to people and communities hard hit by the pandemic. The President’s Build Back Better program is now being rolled out in two parts. The American Jobs Plan, recently released, would fund infrastructure to support sustained economic growth and, at the same time, address racial and economic injustices and reduce carbon emissions. It emphasizes investments and policy changes that would allow many low-income workers to increase their EARNED income. The American Families Act, to be released soon, will set up structures to help all American families thrive - expanded educational opportunities for the bottom half of the income distribution, for example.
We can help family and friends (including people in our church) realize the importance of what’s happening in Congress in these months. Right now, people across the country need to hear about the new and not well-understood Jobs Act. My April 5 blog post on the Jobs Act is worth a second read. We can also contact our members of Congress, especially if they are moderate Democrats or moderate Republicans, to urge support for the President’s Build Back Better plans. In the Senate, every possible vote is crucial to this legislation becoming law.
In addition to legislative advocacy, we need to turn our attention to the 2022 elections. Efforts to resist voter suppression and get out the vote are important. We also need to give time and money to Democrats who will face tight races in 2022. While most Republicans across the country support elements of Biden’s plans, the Republican members of Congress now seem committed to voting against everything Biden as a bloc. If they secure a majority in either or both houses of Congress in 2022, we won’t fully realize the hopes that Biden’s election and early months have raised. Josh Dickson is a model of Christian leadership in electoral politics.