Joe Biden calls for unity, calls out leadership
In a speech from Philadelphia City Hall, the Democratic nominee and former Vice President struck a stark contrast from his competitor regarding the nationwide George Floyd protests.
While the current president grows more drastic in his response to the uprisings happening across the country in response to the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis Police officer, former Vice President Joe Biden struck a demonstrably different tone in a speech at Philadelphia City Hall on June 2.
Biden started with a harken back to the words uttered by Eric Garner six years ago.
“I can’t breathe.”
He equated it to how many black and brown communities live their daily lives in the U.S.
Those same words were also what George Floyd said as Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck.
“It’s time to listen to those words, to try to understand them, to respond to them, and respond with action,” said Biden.
In the days preceding his speech in Philadelphia, the former Vice President was out with Black Lives Matter protesters in Wilmington, Delaware and elsewhere, hearing their demands and talking to them.
In the same timeframe, the president stowed away in a bunker underneath the White House as crowds in Washington D.C. knocked over the gates to the complex and stormed the lawn to make their voices heard.
The next day, he spoke of using military force to quell the demonstrations if governors didn’t take action with the National Guard to “dominate” the protesters.
He said he stood with the peaceful ones, but then had a peaceful group dispersed with tear gas before having a photo op with a Bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church.
Church leaders weren’t happy.
“The president just used a Bible, the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and one of the churches of my diocese, without permission, as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus,” said Episcopal Bishop of Washington, Reverend Marianne Budde in response.
Biden brought such actions and statements during the president’s short history in office to the limelight.
“Donald Trump has turned this country into a battlefield driven by old resentments and fresh fears,” he said. “He thinks division helps him. His narcissism has become more important than the nation’s well being that he leads.”
The only way to overcome those wounds is to unite, Biden said, but that can’t happen in the U.S. without leadership.
The events of the past week are what he believes to be the country “crying out for leadership.”
For starters, Biden recognized the U.S.’s dark history of racism that’s run alongside its ideal of equality.
“American history isn’t a fairy tale with a guaranteed happy ending,” he said. “The battle for the soul of this nation has been a constant push and pull for more than 240 years.”
“The honest truth is that both elements are part of the American character,” said Biden, “and the battle is never won.”
For that reason, he looks at the presidency as a “very big job.”
“Nobody will get it right, and I won’t either,” he said.
But Biden said he will take responsibility for the mistakes he makes in office, something the president has failed to do all four years and especially since 2020 began.
“This job is not about me, it’s about you, it’s about us,” Biden said.
Pennsylvania’s primary took place on June 2. Biden and Trump will face off in the general election in a short five months.
Listen to his full speech here.