Joe Biden says America will overcome ‘this season of darkness’
In his acceptance speech, the candidate says, ‘America is at an inflection point, a time of real peril’
In a speech that portrayed America as having arrived at a moment of choice between two very different futures, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said the country would overcome “this season of darkness”, as he accepted the nomination.
“The current President has cloaked America in darkness for much too long. Too much anger. Too much fear. Too much division,” Mr. Biden said on the fourth and final day of a virtual Democratic National Convention, themed ‘America’s Promise’. Compelled by the pandemic to implement distancing measures, the former Obama-era Vice-President spoke from a mostly empty room, addressing an audience across the country watching on their computer and television screens.
“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. For make no mistake. United we can, and will, overcome this season of darkness in America. We will choose hope over fear, facts over fiction, fairness over privilege,” Mr. Biden said.
Declaring that he was a proud Democrat, Mr. Biden pitched himself as a candidate with broader appeal: a line consistent with his presidential campaign and the early part of the convention.
Convention programming from earlier in the week had featured a number of Republicans — politicians as well as regular citizens — who were voting for Mr. Biden rather than President Donald Trump. “I will work as hard for those who didn’t support me as I will for those who did,” Mr. Biden said.
Democrats are trying to get voters across their spectrum — from the centrists to the progressives — to vote for Mr. Biden. Prior to his speech, the convention organisers aired a clip of a video call between several of Mr. Biden’s former competitors from the Democratic primaries, including progressive candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, talking up Mr. Biden’s candidacy .
Attack on President
Throughout his speech, Mr. Biden did not directly name the current occupant of the White House (Mr. Trump), but attacked his policies and personality.
“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.” Mr. Biden said, articulating a vision for America that was in sharp contrast to his characterisation of Mr. Trump’s vision. “I see a different America. One that is generous and strong. Selfless and humble,” he said. “It’s about winning the heart, and yes, the soul of America.” He defined this winning as belonging to the generous, to the workers and to communities that have known the “injustice of the ‘knee on neck’” — a reference to George Floyd the unarmed black man who died after being pinned down by a white policeman. Mr. Biden said he had spoken to Floyd’s young daughter before her father’s funeral and being affected deeply by her words.
With regard to foreign policy, Mr. Biden said: “I will be a President who will stand with our allies and friends. I will make it clear to our adversaries the days of cozying up to dictators are over.”
There was also an apparent warning to Russia, with reference to intelligence reports that Russia had offered Taliban fighters bounties for killing American and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
“Under President Biden, America will not turn a blind eye to Russian bounties on the heads of American soldiers. Nor will I put up with foreign interference in our most sacred democratic exercise — voting,” he said.
Mr. Biden said the November 3 election was consequential and “life-changing.” “All elections are important. But we know in our bones this one is more consequential. America is at an inflection point. A time of real peril, but of extraordinary possibilities.”
“Character is on the ballot. Compassion is on the ballot. Decency, science, democracy. They are all on the ballot,” he said.
Fallout of COVID-19
Mr. Biden outlined the health and economic fallout of COVID-19 — five million Americans were infected and more than 1,70,000 dead, with 50 million filing for unemployment this year.
Mr. Biden, who has often drawn connections between his personal story and those of people he meets, spoke about the loss of close family members — his (first) wife, their daughter and, more recently, his son Beau. He talked about his father falling upon hard times and connected that event to his economic plan.
The plan included an outline of infrastructure projects, enhancing childcare and building on the Affordable Care Act, an Obama-era health care plan that was intended to bring uninsured Americans into the health insurance net. Mr. Biden also spoke of a future of rising wages and equal pay for women. His platform supports a $15 federal minimum wage and actions designed to support the closing of the gender pay gap. Mr. Biden said there would be “an immigration system that powers our economy and reflects our values,” and of an opportunity to create jobs while fighting the climate crisis. His platform includes policy reform for temporary and permanent visas for highly skilled workers.
He praised his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris. “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,” he said.“But she’s overcome every obstacle she's ever faced.
The former Vice-President called his wife, Jill Biden, an “unstoppable force.” “She was a great Second Lady and she will make a great First Lady for this nation, she loves this country so much.”
Mr. Trump responded to Mr. Biden’s speech on Twitter. “In 47 years, Joe did none of the things of which he now speaks. He will never change, just words!”