hope

We are in the midst of significance. After the darkest winter this country has witnessed since WWII, there is a new hope floating in the air, springing from an empathy from our leadership. Say what you want about politics, but soon there will be money in needy pockets, vaccines available for everyone, and acts of caring from Washington the likes of which will buoy this tired America straight into a better world. Today I see a brighter horizon. Sure the road is still muddy and slick and filled with challenging ruts, but with lifted eyes we can find the fulfillment of sweet promises that will change everything.

When I woke up this morning, the following subscription email was already in my mailbox. Heather Cox Richardson has a way with words, a keen sense of history, and a level disposition; through her newsletter, she directs readers daily to the significance of the moment. I give you her words:

Today was a big day for the United States of America.

The House of Representatives passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, accepting the changes to the measure that the Senate had added. This bill marks a sea change in our government. Rather than focusing on dismantling the federal government and turning individuals loose to act as they wish, Congress has returned to the principles of the nation before 1981, using the federal government to support ordinary Americans. With its expansion of the child tax credit, the bill is projected to reach about 27 million children and to cut child poverty in half.

The bill, which President Biden is expected to sign Friday, is a landmark piece of legislation, reversing the trend of American government since Ronald Reagan’s 1981 tax cut. Rather than funneling money upward in the belief that those at the top will invest in the economy and thus create jobs for poorer Americans, the Democrats are returning to the idea that using the government to put money into the hands of ordinary Americans will rebuild the economy from the bottom up. This was the argument for the very first expansion of the American government—during Abraham Lincoln’s administration—and it was the belief on which President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the New Deal.

Unlike the previous implementations of this theory, though, Biden’s version, embodied in the American Rescue Plan, does not privilege white men (who in Lincoln and Roosevelt’s day were presumed to be family breadwinners). It moves money to low-wage earners generally, especially to women and to people of color. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) called the child tax credit “a new lifeline to the middle class.”  “Franklin Roosevelt lifted seniors out of poverty, 90 percent of them with Social Security, and with the stroke of a pen,” she said. “President Biden is going to lift millions and millions of children out of poverty in this country.”

(“Letters from an American” Heather Cox Richardson).

It’s time my friends, to take a deep and wonderful breath, and with the same intensity exhale all you have been holding in for 12 months. Repeat until you feel this joyous moment. Yes, it is only early March, and we are not out of woods yet. There is still snow on the ground and cold nights ahead, but the sap is flowing and the sugar shacks are fired up. The light is stronger than a month ago, warmer too, and thanks to the hard work of science and the coordination of our governance, and yes the power of empathy for all who need it most, we have a rich serving of hope headed straight onto our tables.

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