On Thursday, President Joe Biden signed a law proclaiming Juneteenth, June 19, a federal holiday, commemorating the freeing of the very last slaves in the United States in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865. Yet the president used Juneteenth as an excuse to push his radical agenda, including his federal takeover of elections and housing. He demonized Republican voter integrity laws and hailed a federal program that will pull zoning decisions away from city councils.
“The truth is, it’s simply not enough to just commemorate Juneteenth. After all, emancipation of enslaved black Americans didn’t mark the end of America’s work to deliver on the promise of equality,” Biden said. “To honor the true meaning of Juneteenth, we have to continue toward that promise. We’ve not gotten there yet.”
The president said his administration is “committed to doing just that. That’s why we’ve launched an aggressive effort to combat racial discrimination in housing.”
Combatting racial discrimination in housing is a noble goal, but Biden was referring to a revamped version of the Obama administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule (AFFH), a rule that started removing zoning from the purview of state and local governments. The Trump administration eliminated the rule, but the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under Biden has already proposed two new rules. Part of Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan explicitly pushes for apartment buildings in neighborhoods that are currently restricted to single-family homes.
During the 2020 campaign, Biden promised to go much further than AFFH. He embraced Sen. Cory Booker’s (D-N.J.) strategy for ending single-family zoning in the suburbs and creating “little downtowns” there. Biden justifies his assault on local zoning control by claiming that current zoning laws that favor single-family homes disproportionately hurt low-income people who can’t afford to move to the suburbs. Yet this policy would take away Americans’ abilities to shape their own neighborhoods.
Biden’s pledge to increase black homeownership may be noble, but Donald Trump was right to warn that Biden’s policies represent a threat to the suburbs.
In terms of pushing racial equity on Juneteenth, the president also touted his administration’s goal to give black entrepreneurs more access to capital (a noble goal but a policy that singles people out based on the color of their skin) and his desire to “give each and every child, three and four years of age, not daycare but school.” Yet without vital measures to improve schools like school choice, decreasing the age of first entry may not make much of a positive difference.
Biden also called for more funding for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), pushing racial equity in the health care system, and ensuring clean air and water for all communities.
Yet Biden saved his most controversial talking point for last.
He said America’s promise of racial equality is “not going to be fulfilled so long as the sacred right to vote remains under attack.”
“We see this assault from restrictive laws, threats of intimidation, voter purges, and more, an assault that offends our very democracy,” Biden insisted. “We can’t rest until the promise of equality is fulfilled for every one of us. … That, to me, is the meaning of Juneteenth.”
Biden’s remarks on the right to vote echoed his previous attack on Georgia’s election integrity law. He condemned the law as not just racist but “Jim Crow on Steroids.” Yet Georgia’s new law merely restored some election integrity protections that had been cast aside for the pandemic in 2020. The Washington Post gave Biden four Pinocchios for repeatedly claiming that the Georgia law “ends voting hours early.” In fact, the bill extended voting hours. The election laws in Biden’s home state of Delaware are far more restrictive.
Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah) eviscerated this line of attack in April.
“As someone who has actually experienced Jim Crow laws, I would like to set the record straight on the myths regarding the recently-passed Georgia state law, and why any comparison between this law and Jim Crow is absolutely outrageous,” Owens declared.
“I grew up in the era of actual, legalized institutional racism. I grew up in the Deep South in Tallahassee Florida in the 1960s during the days of the KKK, Jim Crow, and segregation,” Owens explained. He became the third black athlete to ever receive a scholarship to play football at the University of Miami. He went on to play in the NFL, found businesses, and serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“The section of the Georgia law that has brought so much outrage from the Left simply requires any person applying for an absentee ballot to include evidence of a government-issued ID on their application,” Owens explained. “If a voter does not have a driver’s license or ID card, that voter can use a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or any other government document that shows a name and address of this voter. If a voter somehow cannot produce one of these above forms of ID, that voter can still vote and cast a vote through a provisional ballot.”
“What I find extremely offensive is the narrative from the Left that black people are not smart enough, not educated enough, not desirous enough of education to do what every other culture and race does in this country, get an ID,” Owens declared. “True racism is this: It’s a projection of the Democratic Party on my proud race. It’s called the soft bigotry of low expectations.”
The Republican election integrity laws across the country have nothing to do with racism and everything to do with correcting election irregularities that plagued the 2020 election, such as ballot drop-boxes with insecure chains of custody and the widespread mailing of mail-in ballots using outdated voter lists.
Time magazine even published an astonishing story about a “cabal” and a “shadow campaign” that pulled the levers behind the scenes in the 2020 election. While the article claims these efforts aimed at preserving a free and fair election, organizations like the Center for Tech and Civic Life funneled money into blue areas of the country, boosting turnout that helped Biden prevail.
Rather than address these serious concerns, Democrats resort to crying racism. Meanwhile, they are pushing a federal takeover of elections. H.R. 1 would gut election integrity protections, removing state-level control, and it would significantly curtail free speech in politics.
When 14 House Republicans voted against making Juneteenth a federal holiday, many Americans could not believe it. Were the Republicans actually celebrating slavery? Yet these Republicans did not trust Democrats. Amid the cultural context of critical race theory and baseless accusations of racism, these congressmen refused to back Juneteenth.
Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James explained why Juneteenth is a worthy federal holiday, regardless of Democrats’ recent racial politics. “Juneteenth is worthy of celebration by all Americans. That’s because it’s the day that we began to live up to one of the greatest principles we professed as Americans: a nation devoted to liberty for all,” she wrote.
Yet Biden’s attempt to use Juneteenth to push his deceptive and radical agenda illustrates why the 14 Republicans did not trust Democrats on this issue. Juneteenth should be a celebration of America finally overcoming the heinous evil of race-based slavery. Instead, Biden is using it to pit Americans against one another and to justify federal takeovers of zoning and elections, while demonizing election integrity laws.