Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden delivered the most important speech of his political life on Thursday (Aug. 20) in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware calling on the nation to support his vision of “love, hope and light” and suggesting that American democracy is at stake.
“All elections are important, but we know in our bone, this one is more consequential,” Biden said in his 20-minute address accepting the Democratic nomination for President.
The former Vice-president and longtime U.S. Senator did not mention President Donald Trump by name often, but rattled off a litany of issues that he said showed failure on the part of the current occupant of the White House.
He hit Trump for his poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the resulting unemployment spike, small business closures, and lost health insurance.
“Our current President has failed in his most basic duty to the nation – he failed to protect us,” Biden said. “This is a life-changing election. This will determine what America will look like for a long, long time.”
Biden touched on themes he said would spearhead his administration, including raising taxes on upper-income Americans, expanding the Affordable Care Act, investing in clean energy and climate change reforms, supporting military families, improving race relations, and standing up to authoritarian leaders in the international arena.
But Biden focused mostly on jobs. He said he would invest in infrastructure, education, and workforce training. Biden said no progress could be made until the coronavirus that has racked American public health and commerce was under control. The United States has the highest number of COVID-19 cases at over 5 million and the nation’s death toll has topped 170,000.
“The first step is to get control of the virus that has ruined so many lives,” Biden said. “We can’t get our lives back on track until we get this virus under control.”
Throughout the night, the convention’s focus was on Joe Biden’s “decency.” Through testimonials and videos there were illustrations of Biden’s family loyalty, willingness to help others, and his resiliency in overcoming setbacks.
“I found the best way through pain and loss and grief is to find purpose,” he said. “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… we will choose hope over fear, fact over fiction, fairness over privilege.”
Biden also made a pitch to those who were undecided or may even vote against him.
“I will work hard for those who did not support me, as hard for them as I did for those who did vote for me,” Biden said. “While I’ll be a Democratic candidate, I’ll be an American President.”
Biden closed the evening by stepping outside of the convention center where he gave the speech with his wife, Jill, and his Vice-presidential selection Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and her husband, Douglas. With the convention being virtual, there was no balloon drop, but a parking lot resembling a drive-in movie theater was the backdrop for a fireworks show.
MICHAEL JOHN GRAY REACTS
Talk Business & Politics has summarized highlights from the Democratic National Convention this week and will report on the Republican National Convention next week. Each night, a prominent party official or candidate will be asked for commentary and feedback on the evening’s events.
Michael John Gray, chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas, reacted to the night’s events and the weeklong virtual national convention.
TB&P: If you could summarize Biden’s speech to the nation or candidacy in a few sentences or paragraph, how would you define it?
Michael John Gray: Great Speech. It wasn’t us against them. It wasn’t your neighbors are wrong and you are right. It was “we are all in this together” and it’s going to take all of us. He didn’t try to appeal on policy or ideology but in decency, empathy, humanity. It’s the kind of message we all need to listen to.
TB&P: From this week’s convention, who stood out or what moment stood out to you as defining?
Gray: Completely different convention from four years ago. It wasn’t about who was smarter, who was ready to lead. It was about empathy, about bringing together people, all people, to build back the America that we all can be proud of.
They mistakenly didn’t show the human side of Secretary [Hillary] Clinton enough. They did a great job of humanizing Joe Biden and they did a great job staying away from policy debates and rather appealing to the humanity and decency of Americans.
TB&P: Is the Biden-Harris ticket moderate enough to compete in Arkansas? What level of visibility might we see in state?
Gray: I think we’ll see a lot of Arkansans working hard up and down the ballot. I think the campaign organization here will be strictly volunteer. They’re good enough to win here. They bring a message of hope that we all need. The question is not whether they are moderate enough, but rather can the Arkansas voter see past the deep division whose flames have been fanned by President Trump and his Republican Party.