This Christmas, celebrate strong leadership

Published 11:12 am Thursday, December 23, 2021

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When families come together for Christmas, talk will inevitably drift toward the question of what the Biden administration has in store for us in the new year. If I could give our president one gift, I would allow him to listen in on those candid conversations. After all, the only way you can evaluate the success or failure of a policy agenda is to pay attention to what the people are saying about it. Last week, I completed my annual tour of Tennessee’s 95 counties, and in those meetings, local leaders made it abundantly clear that President Biden’s policies are failing our state.
Parents, teachers, and educators were all quick to raise concerns over the negative impact the administration’s COVID agenda had on schools. During a virtual roundtable in April, Gibson County superintendents shared how one-size-fits-all mandates made the basics of learning almost impossible for some students. These difficulties, coupled with technological barriers and logistical hurdles, had teachers and administrators at their wits’ end.
Local leaders also expressed growing concern over the Biden administration’s refusal to secure the southern border. Hamilton County officials are still reeling in the wake of the administration’s trafficking of minors into Chattanooga. The community was not notified of President Biden’s plan and was not given any time to guarantee the safety of these young children. Following my discussions, I sent a letter to the White House demanding more information and introduced the Migrant Resettlement Transparency Act with Senator Bill Hagerty to require the administration to coordinate with local authorities on some immigration issues.
Lockdown mandates and border security were not the only difficult issues brought to the forefront in these meetings. In September I met with leadership at the International Port of Memphis. The Biden administration’s failure to prioritize supply chain recovery has slowed trade and raised prices on consumers across the mid-south. The White House has been slow to bring Memphis leaders to the table, but following our meeting, I introduced legislation to benefit the port and make supply chains more efficient.
Amid these critiques of the White House, my county visits unveiled a compelling story about the importance of strong local leadership. In August, I was briefed on services provided at the new city hall facility in Sullivan County, and discussed how to best advocate for Kingsport’s growing small business interests. Haywood County leaders’ commitment to attracting investment resulted in a historic announcement this year from Ford Motor Company: Haywood will be the site of Ford’s largest production plant in the country – known as “Blue Oval City” – which will bring nearly 6,000 new jobs to Tennessee.
In 2021, we honored a legacy of strong community ties. The Tennesseans who call Madison County home honored their bicentennial, and in Jonesborough, we celebrated 225 years of statehood. All across the state, local leaders and volunteers stepped up to honor our traditions, celebrate our successes, and share their vision for what’s to come. Through their hard work, they reminded us that the future of our country won’t be decided in Washington, D.C., but in the meetings and conversations held in small towns in every state in the nation.
This year, as I gather with my family to give thanks for the blessings of Christmas and the promise of a new year, I won’t be praying for revamped commitments from the White House. If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that Joe Biden won’t alter his agenda to help states like Tennessee thrive. Instead, I’ll be praying for the educators, small business owners, volunteers, and local leaders who fight for Tennessee every single day.
I wish you all a wonderful Christmas, a joyful end to the holiday season, and a blessed new year.
(Marsha Blackburn represents Tennessee in the U.S. Senate)

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