Dr. Jill Biden Speech by Paul Schwartz | Images by Audrey Rothstein Photography
Inspirational! That is the word that best describes Dr. Jill Biden's address to the Woman's Democratic Club of Montgomery County during its 60th-anniversary celebration.
Dr. Biden spoke of her initial entrance into politics as a child of the 60s who, in her bell bottom pants and tie-dyed shirts, cared about civil rights, women's rights, and Vietnam. Two weeks after her 25th birthday, when she married a young senator from Delaware, she came to understand that politics does not just take place in some distant capital. Rather, it involves your neighbors, your healthcare, your teachers and grocery clerks, as well as door-to-door canvassing, and phone banking. It is what we do to make our communities better. It is what the Woman's Democratic Club of Montgomery County does at the very heart of the Democratic Party. "It is how we accomplished what we did over the past eight years," she said. "Our strength is in our grassroots efforts. It is how we will overcome our current predicament."
Dr. Biden admitted that it has been a very "tough year." The policies of the Obama/Biden administration have been consistently challenged by the new administration. Examples include: attempted repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which enabled more than 17 million uninsured Americans to obtain health insurance and which only survived repeal by one Senate vote; the roll back of Title IX's sexual assault protections; walking away from the Paris Climate Accords; and rescinding Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and denying "dreamers" a pathway to citizenship. Dr. Biden explained that she sees the divisiveness and uncertainty created by the Trump administration reflected on the faces of her students at Northern Virginia Community College. Some of her students actually fear returning to school under current circumstances. The good news is that they do return to school, and have come to lean on each other for support, and are all learning how to become more engaged just as a young Jill Jacobs did back in those turbulent 60s. Dr. Biden also pointed out that the ACLU has more volunteers and donations than ever before and that Emily's List has grown from 900 donors to more than 11,000 donors one year.
Despite our current situation, Dr. Biden reminded us that we have come a long way from the days in which a woman could only get a credit card in her husband's name, had to have her father cosign a car loan, or had to promise that she would not get pregnant in order to be hired for a job. There are now more women in Congress than ever before and there are three sitting female Supreme Court Justices. Moreover, she said, the progress is worldwide, as she saw in a small town in Nairobi where, despite being " 600 acres of mud and filth with no electricity," local women activists have chosen not to leave but, rather, to work to make a difference in their own home.
That same loyalty to our home will inspire all of us not to give up, but to work to make our home better, she said, whether we define that home as Montgomery County, Maryland, or the United States of America. We have a calling to make a difference where we are. For Dr. Biden, the direction is clear: We have to look to 2018 and beyond. We have to find leaders who can unite us, not divide us. We have to become engaged at all levels, women need to run for office, and we all need to keep caring about the direction of our country. And we have to understand that nothing worth doing will be accomplished overnight. "With all of us in this together," Dr. Biden concluded, "we will live up to the promise of America."