The Long Road Forward: The Partnership Looks Ahead on Key Political Issues in 2021
On March 4, 1865, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated to serve a second term as President of the United States. Lincoln's election as president in 1860 started a devastating civil war. Lincoln's commitment to stop the expansion of slavery into federal territories alarmed Southern slave-holding states to risk civil war rather than tolerate an anti-slavery Republican administration. After four bloody years of war, Union troops now held much of the South and the remaining Confederate Armies were soon to be defeated. Lincoln was re-elected in a landslide in 1864, and now, in the early spring of 1865, he delivered his Second Inaugural Address, looking ahead to the difficult process of reconciliation between a victorious North and a vanquished South. Lincoln said:
"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan ~ to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."
With the Biden Administration to be inaugurated today, in a ritual of transferring power peacefully dating back to George Washington, Americans stand at a crossroads. A global pandemic that has halted significant portions of our economy and largely curtailed personal meetings and travel has only exacerbated simmering tensions between the two major political parties, following a difficult summer of racial discord and a contested presidential election in November. A protest by some of President Trump's supporters turned into a riot which stormed the U.S. Capitol building, shocking the country and resulting in five deaths.
For 30 years, the Partnership has worked with elected officials serving on city councils, school boards, and water boards, as community college trustees and as members of the County Board of Supervisors. It has had strong working relationships with lawmakers in the State Legislature and in Congress from both parties. These officials were elected by the people of their districts, and despite any disagreements on particular legislation or policy, we share a love for our country, our state, our communities and homes here in the San Gabriel Valley, and the principles of the Constitution.
The Partnership strongly condemns any and all political acts of violence and expresses our extreme concern for the rising hatred, suspicion, and disharmony among Americans of opposing political views. The rights guaranteed in the Constitution allow for peaceful assembly, petitioning of the government and freedom of the press. Protest is a time-honored tradition for Americans, to physically gather and peacefully voice their dissatisfaction. Violence, destruction of property, and the endangerment of our neighbors and fellow citizens are unacceptable and should not be tolerated, condoned, dismissed, diminished or justified.
It is our hope that extreme partisanship and this era of bad feelings between Republicans and Democrats, and among all Americans, will begin to recede, that the country will redirect its political energies to focus on what unites us as Americans rather than on what divides us as individuals, and that statesmanship from officials in both parties, at all levels of government, will throttle back the extremist rhetoric and strive to uplift, elevate and direct us toward, in Lincoln's words, "the better angels of our nature."
There is much common ground that Congress and the Biden Administration can work on over the next four years, such as:
- Ensuring a safe rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines and making sure that all residents have access to it
- Leading a revival of our small businesses, hotels, and restaurants once the pandemic abates
- Providing financial aid to our schools so they can safely reopen and provide in-person instruction to students
- Exploring financing options for a national transportation bill that focuses on freight and goods movement
- Reviving American-based manufacturing, to allow those who are not college-educated to be properly trained to become effective employees in this important sector
- Addressing over-regulation or outdated regulation by federal agencies that act as a drag on the economy and American companies
- Continuing to explore advantageous trade arrangements with friendly nations around the world
- Leading the American people to see the good in one another, that their political adversaries are not their mortal enemies
The Partnership looks forward to working with a new Congress and Biden Administration in the years ahead and expresses our heartfelt wishes for a renewal of our civic harmony and brotherhood.