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Ambassador Ron Kirk, former U.S. Trade Representative and the first Black mayor of Dallas, was awarded the James C. Belt Life Time Achievement Award during an Honors Brunch presented by the United Methodist Men, Feb. 25. MIKE MCGEE




There are extraordinary challenges facing our country this election year. The United States recently crossed a sobering threshold: more than 220,000 Americans have died from coronavirus. On top of that, millions of Americans have lost their jobs and are struggling to support their families as small businesses close everywhere. And sadly, we are once again grappling with the hard issues of systemic racism and matters of social justice in our society. Now more than ever, America needs a true leader in the White House. That leader is Joe Biden.

I am a first-generation beneficiary of the Civil Rights Movement, born in the segregated Jim Crow south, and an eyewitness to the crippling and humiliating effects of legally enforced discrimination. It’s what motivated me to seek a career in law and in public service. With all that I’ve witnessed in my life, I could never believe we would one day be led by a president completely uninterested in, and unwilling to do, the hard work of bring us together to solve our greatest challenges. In these last four years under President Trump, so many Americans have lost their faith in government and in our democracy. We need a leader to restore that faith. We deserve better.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. counseled, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Embedded in that prophecy is the reality that the arc does not bend by itself. There are millions of Americans who go to work every day to serve their communities and give back more than they receive. Our great democracy works because we have leaders at all levels of government who put country before themselves and bend that arc towards justice. Biden has spent decades serving our country and he would bring a lifetime of experience to the Oval Office. With our country facing so many crises, we need a leader who can bring us together and heal our divisions. That is the only way forward.

I have served at every level of government and I know what it takes to work with leaders from different ideological views. You need to find common ground. It takes courage and a willingness to listen. That’s what Biden has done his entire career. He has served our nation with honor, compassion, and dignity. You may remember when Joe was attacked in the primary for saying he would work with Republicans like the late John McCain. Good. That’s what Texans want in a president, someone to reach across the aisle and find common ground. We need more of that common sense and compromise in the White House.

Joe also has a keen understanding of what makes our economy work for everyone. While Wall Street profits reach all-time highs, everyday Americans are struggling to make ends meet. This pandemic has devastated so many industries and small businesses and we need a president who can make government work for everyone. As President Obama’s top advisor, Joe was put in charge of the Recovery Act and helped build the longest consecutive streak of private sector job growth in the history of our country. Obama and Biden helped save the auto industry and put tens of millions of Americans back to work after the Great Recession. Biden knows that the first and most critical step to rebuilding our economy is attacking the coronavirus pandemic with the best science and public health measures we have. Trump has had months to come up with a plan, and yet he still flails. We deserve a president who will trust in science and restore our faith in good government. Biden is that leader.

With the tragic passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, this election takes on even more urgency than before. Voters must understand that everything we hold dear is on the ballot: from civil rights and voting rights, to reproductive health, LGBTQ equality and access to health care. By filling the open Supreme Court seat left by Justice Ginsburg, Senator Mitch McConnell and Republicans have deprived the American people of a say in that nomination. We cannot let our voices be silenced in this election.

Early voting recently started in Texas, in some places with record turnout. Too many Americans still face barriers to casting their ballot – but I encourage every single eligible voter to vote in this election. There is too much at stake to sit on the sidelines. We need true leadership in the White House. We must stop the spread of this virus, rebuild our economy, and come together to solve the world’s most pressing challenges like climate change. Texas deserves a president who will put everyday Americans first. We deserve a president like Biden, and a vice president like Kamala Harris, who will bring unity, restore our common purpose, and heal our divisions. Texans should remember those qualities when they vote this election season.


Ron Kirk is the former Mayor of Dallas.

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