Let’s Go Joe (It’s Time for Bold Executive Action)

By Julia Santos, Indivisible Senior Healthcare Policy Manager

Julia Santos here. You may not know me, but I am the Senior Healthcare Policy Manager here at Indivisible Project, and I am here to break down our newly launched program: Let’s Go, Joe! This is Indivisible’s program to cheer on President Biden and encourage him to take action on the issues that will most impact everyday Americans, through the use of Executive Action.

Wait…what’s executive action?

Take for example, the Department of Education (DOE). The Dept. of Ed was responsible for ensuring the pause on federal student loan interest rates and payments continued when President Biden gave the directive in December 2021. That would be considered an executive action by means of executive order.

You’ve likely heard executive action and executive orders used interchangeably in the media when talking about things that a President does. However they are not exactly the same — executive orders are directives from the president himself, and executive actions is a general term to describe actions taken by the executive branch.

So, broadly speaking, all executive orders are executive actions, but not all executive actions are executive orders (this NPR piece from 2014 is a good place to start to understand the difference).

So, why haven’t we moved towards pushing for more Administrative Advocacy work before?

With that being said, why focus on pushing Biden right now, when it seems that usually legislation is more effective?

A black and white photo of President Joe Biden smiling with a paint splash and the words, “Let’s Go Joe” over his shoulder plus white text on a reddish pink background that says “What issue would you most like President Biden to use his power as president to address?”
Click here to take our Let’s Go Joe survey.

What sort of executive actions do we hope to see from President Biden?

However, until they solidify their full list, we’re prioritizing executive action in two key areas: climate action and canceling student debt.

Climate Action

Canceling Student Debt

Hold up — why aren’t we working on doing this with democracy reform?

Lastly, the truth is that it’s hard to do EAs on democracy because of the constitution. Generally, we don’t want the executive office to make major transformative changes to how our democracy functions on a structural level without input from Congress, which is why unilateral action on this issue isn’t really possible. Consider what Trump could have done as president if it was.

Here’s where you come in:

  1. If you have a Democratic senator, call and ask them to tell President Biden to take action (Let’s Go Joe!). Your senators and members of Congress (MoCs) wake up every day worried about how they’re going to convince their constituents that they’re working for them. That makes them more accessible — and receptive to outside pressure — than a president. That is why once you have called your senator, call your Representative and ask them the same thing.
  2. If you have a Republican senator or representative or no congressional representation: Advocate with the administration directly. Real talk, calling the White House comment line is A LOT less effective than calling your member of Congress (MoC), BUT being in a red state and telling President Biden that you support bold executive action does give him more cover to say “see these actions are overwhelmingly popular across party lines.”
  3. Take our Let’s Go Joe Executive Action survey. Your responses will help us understand which potential executive actions matter most to our movement and what you’re excited to work on.

There are some other tactics in our Executive Action Explainer if you’re really excited about this work and want to do more.

The Biden administration has the power to change the course we are on. President Biden can and must take robust executive action across a multitude of issue areas to deliver for all of us. We’re in a critical moment to demand bold action from the Biden administration and, if we’re successful, win meaningful and immediate improvements to peoples’ lives.



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