Anyone who had been listening to Trump or Trump’s cadre of Republican trolls had to be watching in expectation that Biden would fumble and fuddle his way through the evening. After all, to listen to Trump, Biden can barely get through a sentence. Those people were very, very disappointed tonight.
Everyone else was carried away by a speech that mingled a call for hope, unity, and progress, with an unabashed confrontation with Trump’s lies and Trump’s failures. In particular, Biden went straight to Trump’s deliberate mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the momentous cost in both lives and jobs.
“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 will be an ally of the light not of the darkness. It’s time for us, for We the People, to come together.”
Biden claimed his spot as a “proud Democrat” as he accepted the party’s nomination, and then said something that will definitely not pass the lips of Donald Trump next week.
“While I will be a Democratic candidate, I will be an American president. I will work as hard for those who didn’t support me as I will for those who did. That’s the job of a president. To represent all of us, not just our base or our party. This is not a partisan moment. This must be an American moment.
It’s a moment that calls for hope and light and love. Hope for our futures, light to see our way forward, and love for one another.”
But just because Biden repeatedly returned to the power inherent in love and unity, doesn’t mean he shied away from either confronting the darkness or diminishing the challenge ahead. He called back to the challenges faced by FDR, comparing that time with today, and declared the urgent necessity of winning this, not for Joe Biden, but for the nation.
”Winning it for those communities who have known the injustice of the ‘knee on the neck.’ For all the young people who have known only an America of rising inequity and shrinking opportunity. They deserve to experience America’s promise in full.”
And in what may have been the heart of the speech, Biden spoke to the difficulty of this moment, and the demands now laying on the nation.
“America is at an inflection point. A time of real peril, but of extraordinary possibilities. We can choose the path of becoming angrier, less hopeful, and more divided. A path of shadow and suspicion.
Or we can choose a different path, and together, take this chance to heal, to be reborn, to unite. A path of hope and light. This is a life-changing election that will determine America’s future for a very long time. Character is on the ballot. Compassion is on the ballot. Decency, science, democracy. They are all on the ballot.”
Biden went into the damage that Trump has done in how he has failed to face the COVID-19 pandemic, reeling off the numbers of infected and dead and saying, clearly and honestly that response is “By far the worst performance of any nation on Earth.” He went on to warn that, should Trump remain in power, things will only continue to get worse as he ignores science and attacks the Affordable Care Act while rewarding billionaires with even more tax breaks.
“What we know about this president is if he’s given four more years he will be what he’s been the last four years. A president who takes no responsibility, refuses to lead, blames others, cozies up to dictators, and fans the flames of hate and division.He will wake up every day believing the job is all about him. Never about you. Is that the America you want for you, your family, your children?”
And Biden made it clear there was a choice of a “a different America … one that is generous and strong. Selfless and humble.”
He promised that his first actions would be dedicated to getting COVID-19 under control, including declaring a national mask mandate, stating correctly that schools and businesses can never go back to normal while the pandemic rages on.
“The tragedy of where we are today is it didn’t have to be this bad. Just look around. It’s not this bad in Canada. Or Europe. Or Japan. Or almost anywhere else in the world. The President keeps telling us the virus is going to disappear. He keeps waiting for a miracle. Well, I have news for him, no miracle is coming.”
Biden promised that schools, business, and all Americans would have the tests they need, the equipment they need, and vaccines that were both safe and fairly distributed. And in a statement that absolutely will not be joined by Trump …
“We’ll have a national mandate to wear a mask-not as a burden, but to protect each other. It’s a patriotic duty. In short, I will do what we should have done from the very beginning.
With that, Biden delivered the moment of the speech most likely to be repeated on the morning news — and most likely to cause a twitter breakdown in the White House.
”Our current president has failed in his most basic duty to this nation. He failed to protect us. He failed to protect America. And, my fellow Americans, that is unforgivable.”
Biden again took the opportunity to do what he’s done so many times, to empathize with Americans who have lost loved ones in this crisis. And he showed how his own losses in life had been shaped into purpose — to deliver people the kind of government that doesn’t just empathize, but act.
At multiple points in the speech, Biden returned to the idea that restoring the economy isn’t just about jobs, it’s about “dignity” and understanding the importance of showing everyone respect.
“That’s why my economic plan is all about jobs, dignity, respect, and community. Together, we can, and we will, rebuild our economy. And when we do, we’ll not only build it back, we’ll build it back better.”
For those waiting for Biden to tick the boxes of policy, he moved swiftly through meeting the long stalled need for improved infrastructure, tying it to the need for good jobs and for meeting issues like ensuring that every community has clean water. He touched on healthcare, saying again that he wants to build on the Affordable Care Act. He moved onto college, to say that costs should be lowered and students should emerge burdened by debt. He talked to making child care accessible for parents who need to return to work, and making home care available for the elderly who want to remain in their homes with dignity.
And he talked to climate change, not just as a crisis but as “an enormous opportunity. An opportunity for America to lead the world in clean energy and create millions of new good-paying jobs in the process.” To pay for this, Biden didn’t shy away from saying that he would end Trump’s $1.3 trilliion giveaway to billionaires and corporations, and instead look for a tax code that rewards work over wealth. Biden also promised that Social Security will remain “a sacred obligation, a sacred promise made.”
Biden also addressed the need to bring the energy of the young people driving the current moment into the party and use their voice to fight “economic injustice, racial injustice, environmental injustice.”
“I hear their voices and if you listen, you can hear them too. And whether it’s the existential threat posed by climate change, the daily fear of being gunned down in school, or the inability to get started in their first job — it will be the work of the next president to restore the promise of America to everyone. “
As he was addressing this point, Biden moved on to praise Kamala Harris and the role he expects her to play as vice president.
“She is a powerful voice for this nation. Her story is the American story. She knows about all the obstacles thrown in the way of so many in our country. Women, Black women, Black Americans, South Asian Americans, immigrants, the left-out and left-behind. But she’s overcome every obstacle she’s ever faced.”
Biden headed into the home stretch of his speech returning to the love he’s found in his family, and the love he feels for the nation. Beau Biden had been remembered at multiple points in the evening, and Joe Biden did so again, but he didn’t shy away from talking about his love for Hunter or Ashley and speaking to their importance in his life.
But Biden wasn’t done drawing the line between himself and Trump. He recalled that this was the third anniversary of the events in Charlottesville, calling Trump’s defense of white supremacists and neo-Nazis the moment that he decided that he could not avoid running.
Coming back from that darkness, Biden recalled what he described as one of the most important conversations he’s had while running for president.
“I met with six-year old Gianna Floyd, a day before her Daddy George Floyd was laid to rest. She is incredibly brave. I’ll never forget. When I leaned down to speak with her, she looked into my eyes and said ‘Daddy, changed the world.’
Her words burrowed deep into my heart. Maybe George Floyd’s murder was the breaking point.Maybe John Lewis’ passing the inspiration. However it has come to be, America is ready to in John’s words, to lay down ‘the heavy burdens of hate at last’ and to do the hard work of rooting out our systemic racism.”
Biden delivered not just a great speech, and not just the speech he needed to give to make fools of those who have claimed he wasn’t’t up to the moment. He delivered the speech the nation needed to hear; a speech filled with optimism, without turning away from realism. A speech that recognized that we are a people in darkness, searching for the light.
“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.”
If you didn’t see it, watch it now. Because every moment cut out of this summary was just as important as the ones left in. Anyone who watched this speech is sure about one thing: Joe Biden is ready.