“But while I’m a Democratic candidate, I’ll be an American President. I’ll work hard for those who didn’t support me, as I did for those who vote for me. That’s the job of a president, to represent all of us, not just our base or our party.” – Joe Biden
It was the moment. Whatever happened was going to decide whether this election had steam or whether it was going to go down like a lead zeppelin, crashing into flames before it had even truly begun. It was the speech of Vice-President Joe Biden’s lifetime.
He nailed it, beautifully. I thought President Obama would be the one to give the perfect convention speech. But he wasn’t. Not even close.
In a seemingly near-empty room, a camera slowly zooms into Joseph Biden standing on a stage alone. This is a necessary choice, but not one that is inspiring.
But then he begins to speak.
“Good evening. Ella Baker, a giant of the civil rights movement left us with this wisdom: ‘Give people light, and they will find the way. Give people light.’ Those are words for our time. The current president has cloaked America in darkness for much too long–too much anger; too much fear; too much division. Here and now, I give you my word. If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I’ll be an ally of the light, not the darkness.”
This speech, this discussion of light and darkness, is the tightrope that Biden takes our hand and walks us across. Covering everything from the patriotism of mandatory masks to an appeal to young people that they deserve a fairer America, Biden hit all the right notes. Including how to handle the Coronavirus.
“And after all this time, the President still does not have a plan. Well, I do. If I’m your president, on day one we will implement the strategy I’ve been laying out since March: We’ll develop and deploy rapid tests, with results available immediately. We’ll make the medical supplies and protective equipment that our country needs. And we’ll make them here in America, so we will never again be at the mercy of China or other foreign countries in order to protect our own people. We’ll make sure the schools have what they need to be safe, open, and effective. We’ll put politics aside. We’ll take the muzzle off our experts so the public gets the information that they need and deserve. Honest, unvarnished truth. They can handle it. We’ll have a national mandate to wear masks. Not as a burden, but as a patriotic duty to protect one another.”
When I listen to Trump. I hear a phony speak. A man, a sociopath, that I cannot relate to, and that will never be capable of relating to me, not because he would or would not want to, but because as a true sociopath, he can’t. He is incapable of empathy, he’s proven it. His life story bears no resemblance to my own. He came into office claiming to be a man of the people, but he has shown what so many of us knew—he’s not the little guy, he’s not working-class, his story is not our story.
When I hear Biden speak, I hear a human being who can speak of love and loss in equal measure. I hear a man whose roots are in the middle-class America I know and understand. A man who values family, friends, and country. Who understands relationships between people and between nations.
As he talks of our adversaries, he explains that we are done being friends with dictators. We are done letting our troops die due to Trump’s indifference or incompetence. And unlike Trump, he will not welcome or embrace foreign interference in our elections.
“Under President Biden, America will not turn a blind eye to Russian bounties on our soldiers. Nor will I put up with interference in our most sacred democratic exercise, voting.”
Biden’s speech was one for the ages. It hit all the right notes. Covering everything from student debt, to climate change, to addressing our crumbling infrastructure, Biden hit it out of the park. A Joe Biden candidacy is a candidacy built on empathy. But more than that, for better or for worse, it is a candidacy built on bridges. Bridges between the left and the right, between conservatives and progressives, and no one can build bridges better than Joe Biden, a man who has spent decades in the Senate accomplishing bill after bill, law after law, including the Violence Against Women Act.
What’s important about this speech as well is that, for those (disingenuous) people still saying Biden has dementia, it begins the process of putting nails in that coffin. Underestimate Joe Biden at the upcoming debates at one’s own peril. I look forward to the debates.
For the first time in a long time, I feel like we’ll see an adult in the White House again. I’m proud to put up a candidate who is a good human being, an adult who addresses my concerns and shows organized thinking and sound judgment. I’m proud to be a Democrat.
The Irish poet Seamus Heaney once wrote:
“History says, Don’t hope on this side of the grave,
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme”
This is our moment to make hope and history rhyme. With passion and purpose, let us begin — you and I together, one nation, under God — united in our love for America and united in our love for each other. For love is more powerful than hate. Hope is more powerful than fear.
Light is more powerful than dark. This is our moment. This is our mission.
May history be able to say that the end of this chapter of American darkness began here tonight as love and hope and light joined in the battle for the soul of the nation.
And this is a battle that we, together, will win. I promise you.