Harris applauds as Biden speaks
Vice President Harris applauds as President Biden delivers his 2024 State of the Union remarks to a joint session of Congress (Official White House photo)

Last night, as NPI con­trib­u­tor Joel Con­nel­ly report­ed here on The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate, Pres­i­dent Joe Biden gave an incred­i­ble State of the Union address to a joint ses­sion of Con­gress, mak­ing the case that Amer­i­ca needs pro­gres­sive ideas and stal­wart lead­er­ship in the face of Don­ald Trump’s assault on our democracy.

Biden’s speech was one of his best, pos­si­bly the best he’s ever deliv­ered, despite the occa­sion­al man­gling of a word and a few coughs. The Pres­i­dent spoke with deep con­vic­tion and from the heart. He fierce­ly and pas­sion­ate­ly defend­ed the val­ues that most Amer­i­cans hold dear. He laid out his accom­plish­ments, vision, and pro­posed pol­i­cy direc­tions very effec­tive­ly. He refresh­ing­ly did not both­er to try to pan­der to Don­ald Trump’s enablers. Instead, he chal­lenged them, over and over again, to drop their alle­giance to Trump and ful­fill their oaths of office.

Most Repub­li­cans sat in stony silence through­out the speech. Cam­eras showed them not even both­er­ing to applaud for lines that in the past would have gen­er­at­ed a bipar­ti­san roar of approval. Such is Trump’s hold over the fac­tion that used to be the par­ty of Lin­coln, Ted­dy Roo­sevelt, and Eisen­how­er. Some appeared stunned by Biden’s pas­sion and will­ing­ness to call out the ele­phants in the room.

Over and over again, the Pres­i­dent invoked the log­ic of pro­gres­sive val­ues to pitch an effec­tive agen­da for the coun­try’s future, bring­ing con­gres­sion­al Democ­rats to their feet and smiles to the faces of count­less vot­ers and activists watch­ing at home. Let’s look at some of his best lines and why they worked so well.

BIDEN: [M]y pur­pose tonight is to wake up the Con­gress and alert the Amer­i­can peo­ple that this is no ordi­nary moment either. Not since Pres­i­dent Lin­coln and the Civ­il War have free­dom and democ­ra­cy been under assault at home as they are today.

Analy­sis: Biden opened his speech by look­ing back to two key moments in Amer­i­can his­to­ry. He first men­tioned the chal­lenge FDR faced in the 1930s when fas­cism was ris­ing around the world and war was immi­nent. Then, in the excerpt above, he drew a par­al­lel with the fraught days lead­ing up to the Con­fed­er­ate insur­rec­tion of the 1860s. He blunt­ly told the joint ses­sion right at the out­set of his speech that his pur­pose in com­ing to the cham­ber was to wake up Con­gress and alert the peo­ple of the dan­ger that the Unit­ed States is fac­ing from the Con­sti­tu­tion’s domes­tic ene­mies. This gave the speech valu­able context.

BIDEN: If the Unit­ed States walks away, it will put Ukraine at risk. Europe is at risk. The free world will be at risk, embold­en­ing oth­ers to do what they wish to do us harm. My mes­sage to Pres­i­dent Putin, who I’ve known for a long time, is sim­ple: We will not walk away. We will not bow down. I will not bow down.

Analy­sis: We will not bow down was a great line. It pow­er­ful­ly com­mu­ni­cat­ed Biden’s com­mit­ment to sol­i­dar­i­ty and friend­ship with our allies, espe­cial­ly our fel­low NATO mem­bers. It rebuked the mur­der­ous dic­ta­tor Vladimir Putin and the evil he rep­re­sents. And it pro­vid­ed a con­trast with Don­ald Trump, who would serve Putin’s inter­ests and agen­da if he were returned to the White House.

BIDEN: My pre­de­ces­sor and some of you here seek to bury the truth about Jan­u­ary 6th. I will not do that. This is a moment to speak the truth and to bury the lies. Here’s the sim­ple truth: You can’t love your coun­try only when you win. As I’ve done ever since being elect­ed to office, I ask all of you, with­out regard to par­ty, to join togeth­er and defend democ­ra­cy. Remem­ber your oath of office to defend against all threats for­eign and domestic.

Analy­sis: Lead­ing by exam­ple, Pres­i­dent Biden blunt­ly called out the dis­gust­ing attempts to white­wash what hap­pened on Jan­u­ary 6th by many Trump enablers who’ve tried to pre­tend that it was akin to a “nor­mal tourist vis­it” or that the vio­lent mob of insur­rec­tion­ists were engag­ing in “legit­i­mate polit­i­cal dis­course.” Biden not­ed, cor­rect­ly, that “some of you here seek to bury the truth about Jan­u­ary 6th.” He did not name names, but he did­n’t need to. The likes of Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene knew he was speak­ing direct­ly to them. The “remem­ber your oath of office” bit was absolute­ly fan­tas­tic and deeply sat­is­fy­ing to hear.

BIDEN: Look, its deci­sion to over­turn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court major­i­ty wrote the fol­low­ing — and with all due respect, Jus­tices — “Women are not with­out elec­toral — elec­toral pow­er” — excuse me — “elec­toral or polit­i­cal pow­er.” You’re about to real­ize just how much you were right about that.

Analy­sis: This line got the atten­tion of a great many observers and speech­watch­ers, as it was unprece­dent­ed for a State of the Union address. But extra­or­di­nary times call for extra­or­di­nary lines. Address­ing the Supreme Court jus­tices sit­ting in front of him — who tried their very best to remain expres­sion­less — Biden deliv­ered a sting­ing admon­ish­ment of the hor­rif­ic Dobbs deci­sion. He expressed his view that in the com­ing elec­tion, a large per­cent­age of women vot­ers will take a strong stand for can­di­dates and bal­lot mea­sures that uphold repro­duc­tive rights, defy­ing Samuel Ali­to and the major­i­ty who threw out Roe.

In adja­cent parts of the speech, Biden spoke of “repro­duc­tive free­dom”, sen­si­bly invok­ing pro­gres­sive val­ues and avoid­ing prob­lem­at­ic life ver­sus choice framing.

BIDEN: Folks, I inher­it­ed an econ­o­my that was on the brink. Now, our econ­o­my is lit­er­al­ly the envy of the world. Fif­teen mil­lion new jobs in just three years. A record. A record. Unem­ploy­ment at 50-year lows. A record 16 mil­lion Amer­i­cans are start­ing small busi­ness­es, and each one is a lit­er­al act of hope, with his­toric job growth and small-busi­ness growth for Black and His­pan­ics and Asian Amer­i­cans. Eight hun­dred thou­sand new man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs in Amer­i­ca and counting.

Analy­sis: Although income inequal­i­ty remains a prob­lem, there is good news to report and cel­e­brate, and Pres­i­dent Biden shared it. The coun­try has so far defied the pre­dic­tions of pes­simistic econ­o­mists who fore­saw con­trac­tions. Instead, more jobs have been cre­at­ed and more Amer­i­cans are start­ing small busi­ness­es. Pres­i­dent Biden right­ful­ly called out this progress and point­ed out that it does­n’t always make or lead the news, but it’s impor­tant and should be get­ting discussed.

BIDEN: And thanks — and thanks to our Bipar­ti­san Infra­struc­ture Law, 46,000 new projects have been announced all across your com­mu­ni­ties. And, by the way, I noticed some of you who’ve strong­ly vot­ed against it are there cheer­ing on that mon­ey com­ing in. And I like it. I’m with you. I’m with you. And if any of you don’t want that mon­ey in your dis­trict, just let me know.

Analy­sis: Moments of lev­i­ty can real­ly help a speech, and here, Biden scored real points by mak­ing a joke at Repub­li­cans’ expense. Obvi­ous­ly, they want the mon­ey that the Infra­struc­ture Invest­ment and Jobs Act is bring­ing into their dis­tricts, even though they refused to help pass the bill. Point­ing out their hypocrisy is impor­tant — the mass media can’t be expect­ed to hold these folks accountable.

BIDEN: I grew up in a home where trick­le-down eco­nom­ics did­n’t put much on my dad’s kitchen table. That’s why I’m deter­mined to turn things around so the mid­dle class does well. When they do well, the poor have a way up and the wealthy still do very well. We all do well.

Analy­sis: We’re always down for a swipe at trick­le-down eco­nom­ics, and Pres­i­dent Biden deliv­ered a great one in his speech. He made it per­son­al by empha­siz­ing that trick­le-down did­n’t get results for his fam­i­ly and mil­lions of oth­er Amer­i­can fam­i­lies — but inclu­sive eco­nom­ic poli­cies like rais­ing the min­i­mum wage and pro­vid­ing paid fam­i­ly and med­ical leave and child­care can help a lot.

BIDEN: And there’s more to do to make sure you’re feel­ing the ben­e­fits of all we’re doing. Amer­i­cans pay more for pre­scrip­tion drugs than any­where in the world. It’s wrong, and I’m end­ing it.  With a law that I pro­posed and signed — and not one of your Repub­li­can bud­dies work- — vot­ed for it — we final­ly beat Big Pharma.

Analy­sis: More account­abil­i­ty! Biden seemed to be speak­ing to con­gres­sion­al Democ­rats here when he said “not one of your Repub­li­can bud­dies… vot­ed for it.” That’s a ref­er­ence to Repub­li­cans’ refusal to help pass the Infla­tion Reduc­tion Act back in 2022, when Democ­rats had con­trol of the U.S. House. On their own, Democ­rats were able to empow­er Medicare to nego­ti­ate low­er prices for drugs.

BIDEN: Folks, the Afford­able Care Act — the old “Oba­macare” — is still a very big deal. Over 100 mil­lion of you can no longer be denied health insur­ance because of a pre­ex­ist­ing con­di­tion. But my pre­de­ces­sor and many in this cham­ber want to take the — that pre­scrip­tion drug away by repeal­ing Afford­able Care Act. I’m not going to let that hap­pen. We stopped you fifty times before, and we’ll stop you again.

Analy­sis: Anoth­er instance where Biden spoke direct­ly to Repub­li­cans, remind­ing them “we stopped you fifty times before” and vow­ing that “we’ll stop you again.” That’s exact­ly the defi­ant deter­mi­na­tion that mil­lions of Amer­i­cans want to see from their Pres­i­dent. They want a fight­er who’s look­ing out for them. Biden made it abun­dant­ly clear: as long as he’s around, he will pre­vent Repub­li­cans from repeal­ing the Patient Pro­tec­tion Act and erad­i­cat­ing Amer­i­cans’ healthcare.

BIDEN: I know the cost of hous­ing is so impor­tant to you. Infla­tion keeps com­ing down. Mort­gage rates will come down as well, and the Fed acknowl­edges that. But I’m not wait­ing. I want to pro­vide an annu­al tax cred­it that will give Amer­i­cans $400 a month for the next two years as mort­gage rates come down to put toward their mort­gages when they buy their first home or trade up for a lit­tle more space. That’s for two years.

Analy­sis: Oh, look — a seri­ous, cred­i­ble pro­pos­al to help low­er costs for mil­lions of Amer­i­cans that is guar­an­teed not to get a sin­gle Repub­li­can vote! But it’s essen­tial to put good ideas on the table, and Pres­i­dent Biden did that in this moment by propos­ing this tax cred­it which he knows John­son and McConnell won’t support.

BIDEN: I want to give pub­lic school teach­ers a raise.

Analy­sis: This came at the tail end of a set of com­ments about mak­ing col­lege more afford­able, increas­ing access to ear­ly learn­ing, and invest­ing more fund­ing in edu­ca­tion. But it was an impor­tant aside. It got a big reac­tion at the watch par­ty I was at, and it res­onat­ed deeply with me, because my par­ents are edu­ca­tors. Proud edu­ca­tors who’ve spent most of their lives teaching.

BIDEN: [T]he Child Tax Cred­it I passed dur­ing the pan­dem­ic cut tax­es for mil­lions of work­ing fam­i­lies and cut child pover­ty in half. Restore that Child Tax Cred­it. No child should go hun­gry in this coun­try. The way to make the tax code fair is to make big cor­po­ra­tions and the very wealthy begin to pay their share. Remem­ber in 2020, 55 of the biggest com­pa­nies in Amer­i­ca made $40 bil­lion and paid zero in fed­er­al income tax. Zero.

Analy­sis: No child should go hun­gry in this coun­try. Amen! I have no doubt that the Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for NPI’s home con­gres­sion­al dis­trict, Suzan Del­Bene, clapped fierce­ly for this line. Restor­ing the Child Tax Cred­it is a huge pri­or­i­ty for her, as it should be for every mem­ber of Con­gress. It’s absolute­ly ridicu­lous that Repub­li­cans don’t sup­port this, but do sup­port giv­ing giant cor­po­ra­tions more tax cuts. Biden did a great job point­ing out that our nation’s largest enter­pris­es don’t need to be show­ered with more mon­ey from Congress.

BIDEN: No bil­lion­aire should pay a low­er fed­er­al tax rate than a teacher, a san­i­ta­tion work­er, or a nurse. I pro­posed a min­i­mum tax for bil­lion­aires of 25 per­cent — just 25 per­cent. You know what that would raise? That would raise $500 bil­lion over the next 10 years.  And imag­ine what that could do for Amer­i­ca. Imag­ine a future with afford­able child­care, mil­lions of fam­i­lies can get what they need to go to work to help grow the econ­o­my. Imag­ine a future with paid leave, because no one should have to choose between work­ing and tak­ing care of their sick fam­i­ly mem­ber. Imag­ine — imag­ine a future with home care and elder­care, and peo­ple liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties so they can stay in their homes and fam­i­ly care­givers can final­ly get the pay they deserve.

Analy­sis: Sim­ply out­stand­ing fram­ing here. In sim­ple, direct terms, and again invok­ing the log­ic of pro­gres­sive val­ues, Pres­i­dent Biden laid out an inclu­sive vision of eco­nom­ic secu­ri­ty for Amer­i­ca’s future. A future in which the wealthy begin to pay more of their fair share. A future in which we strength­en our pub­lic ser­vices instead of weak­en­ing them. His exhor­ta­tions to imag­ine a future where we all do bet­ter were pre­cise­ly what mem­bers of Con­gress need­ed to hear.

BIDEN: Tonight, let’s all agree once again to stand up for seniors. Many of my friends on the oth­er side of the aisle want to put Social Secu­ri­ty on the chop­ping block. If any­one here tries to cut Social Secu­ri­ty or Medicare or raise the retire­ment age, I will stop you.

Analy­sis: In vow­ing to defend Social Secu­ri­ty and Medicare from right wing cuts, Pres­i­dent Biden again drew a strong con­trast between his plat­form and the oppo­si­tion’s plans for 2025 if they regain pow­er. Repub­li­cans like Rick Scott are eager to slash Social Secu­ri­ty and Medicare — Biden told them off.

BIDEN: Look, too many cor­po­ra­tions raise prices to pad their prof­its, charg­ing more and more for less and less. That’s why we’re crack­ing down on cor­po­ra­tions that engage in price goug­ing and decep­tive pric­ing, from food to health­care to hous­ing. In fact, the snack com­pa­nies think you won’t notice if they change the size of the bag and put a hell of a lot few­er — same — same size bag — put few­er chips in it. No, I’m not jok­ing. It’s called “shrink-fla­tion.” Pass Bob­by Casey’s bill and stop this.

Analy­sis: Great call­out to Bob Casey, and won­der­ful affir­ma­tion of the work that for­mer Sec­re­tary of Labor Robert Reich has been doing to edu­cate Amer­i­cans about cor­po­rate greed. Reich’s pieces on shrink­fla­tion are essen­tial view­ing. Biden nat­u­ral­ly segued into a bit about erad­i­cat­ing junk fees right after this.

BIDEN: I’m told my pre­de­ces­sor called mem­bers of Con­gress in the Sen­ate to demand they block the bill. He feels polit­i­cal win — he viewed it as a — it would be a polit­i­cal win for me and a polit­i­cal los­er for him. It’s not about him. It’s not about me.

Analy­sis: These remarks came dur­ing the mid­dle of Biden’s com­ments about the doomed bor­der deal that Repub­li­cans demand­ed and then tor­pe­doed. This was the one part of the speech where Biden did some Clin­ton-style tri­an­gu­lat­ing. Biden smart­ly point­ed out that Repub­li­cans don’t want to fix the prob­lem, they want to cam­paign on the prob­lem so they can seize more pow­er. (Biden added lat­er: “We can fight about fix­ing the bor­der or we can fix it. I’m ready to fix it.”)

BIDEN: I will not demo­nize immi­grants, say­ing they are “poi­son in the blood of our coun­try.” I will not sep­a­rate fam­i­lies. I will not ban peo­ple because of their faith. Unlike my pre­de­ces­sor, on my first day in office, I intro­duced a com­pre­hen­sive bill to fix our immi­gra­tion sys­tem. Take a look at it. It has all these and more: secure the bor­der, pro­vide a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship for DREAM­ers, and so much more.

Analy­sis: This bit could have been longer, and the Pres­i­dent could deployed pro­gres­sive fram­ing to explain that immi­grants are real­ly new Amer­i­cans who have come to this coun­try in pur­suit of the Amer­i­can dream, and deserve to be wel­comed and giv­en oppor­tu­ni­ties to con­tribute to our soci­ety, not hunt­ed down and thrown into deten­tion cen­ters run by for-prof­it companies.

BIDEN: We’re also mak­ing his­to­ry by con­fronting the cli­mate cri­sis, not deny­ing it. I don’t think any of you think there’s no longer a cli­mate cri­sis. At least, I hope you don’t. I’m tak­ing the most sig­nif­i­cant action ever on cli­mate in the his­to­ry of the world. I’m cut­ting our car­bon emis­sions in half by 2030; cre­at­ing tens of thou­sands of clean ener­gy jobs, like the IBEW work­ers build­ing and installing 500,000 elec­tric vehi­cle charg­ing sta­tions — con­serv­ing 30 per­cent of America’s lands and waters by 2030; and tak­ing action on envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice — fence-line com­mu­ni­ties smoth­ered by the lega­cy of pol­lu­tion. And pat­terned after the Peace Corps and Amer­i­ca­Corps [Ameri­Corps], I launched the Cli­mate Corps — (applause) — to put 20,000 young peo­ple to work in the fore­front of our clean ener­gy future. I’ll triple that num­ber in a decade.

Analy­sis: These were the extent of Pres­i­dent Biden’s cli­mate-focused com­ments dur­ing the speech. He could have said more, but what he did say was mean­ing­ful, and pro­gres­sive lead­ers were of course delight­ed that he men­tioned the Cli­mate Corps. (TV cam­eras showed Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez jump­ing up and cheering.)

BIDEN: I’m proud we beat the NRA when I signed the most sig­nif­i­cant gun safe­ty law in near­ly 30 years because of this Con­gress. We now must beat the NRA again. I’m demand­ing a ban on assault weapons and high-capac­i­ty mag­a­zines.  Pass uni­ver­sal back­ground checks.

Analy­sis: Great call to action. Wash­ing­ton State has done all of these things and Amer­i­ca can too — if we get enough pro­gres­sive leg­is­la­tors elect­ed to Con­gress and elim­i­nate the fil­i­buster so Mitch McConnell and his cau­cus can’t stand in the way of the gun respon­si­bil­i­ty leg­is­la­tion that Amer­i­cans want and deserve.

BIDEN: The Unit­ed States has been lead­ing inter­na­tion­al efforts to get more human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance into Gaza. Tonight, I’m direct­ing the U.S. mil­i­tary to lead an emer­gency mis­sion to estab­lish a tem­po­rary pier in the Mediter­ranean on the coast of Gaza that can receive large ship­ments car­ry­ing food, water, med­i­cine, and tem­po­rary shel­ters. No U.S. boots will be on the ground. A tem­po­rary pier will enable a mas­sive increase in the amount of human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance get­ting into Gaza every day.

Analy­sis: This was anoth­er newsy part of the speech. Relief for Gaza is long over­due, and while we wish this move had been made soon­er, it is very wel­come. The extreme Netanyahu gov­ern­ment opposed by most Israelis can­not be relied upon to pro­vide the aid that suf­fer­ing, besieged Pales­tini­ans need. That’s why it is crit­i­cal that the world com­mu­ni­ty step up. Amer­i­can lead­er­ship can facil­i­tate that.

BIDEN: I’ve revi­tal­ized our part­ner­ship and alliance in the Pacif­ic: India, Aus­tralia, Japan, South Korea, the Pacif­ic Islands. I’ve made sure that the most advanced Amer­i­can tech­nolo­gies can’t be used in Chi­na — not allow­ing to trade them there. Frankly, for all his tough talk on Chi­na, it nev­er occurred to my pre­de­ces­sor to do any of that.

Analy­sis: Biden made the most of every oppor­tu­ni­ty in the speech to get in digs at Trump and draw a con­trast, and was able to do so effec­tive­ly again here. These com­ments remind­ed me of the report­ing from 2016 in which peo­ple went to check out Trump’s mer­chan­dise and found that it was made in Chi­na. Trump does not prac­tice what he preach­es and it’s good for the media to be remind­ed of that.

BIDEN: Let me close with this. I know you don’t want to hear any more, Lind­sey, but I got to say a few more things. I know I may not look like it, but I’ve been around a while. When you get to be my age, cer­tain things become clear­er than ever. I know the Amer­i­can story.

Analy­sis: As we’ll see in a moment, Biden had some­thing very seri­ous to say right after this, but he was able to work in anoth­er moment of lev­i­ty with a self-dep­re­cat­ing joke. Unlike Don­ald Trump, Joe Biden can laugh at him­self, and hope­ful­ly peo­ple watch­ing took notice of that distinction.

BIDEN: Again and again, I’ve seen the con­test between com­pet­ing forces in the bat­tle for the soul of our nation, between those who want to pull Amer­i­ca back to the past and those who want to move Amer­i­ca into the future. My life­time has taught me to embrace free­dom and democ­ra­cy, a future based on core val­ues that have defined Amer­i­ca — hon­esty, decen­cy, dig­ni­ty, and equal­i­ty — to respect every­one; to give every­one a fair shot; to give hate no safe har­bor. Now, oth­er peo­ple my age see it dif­fer­ent­ly. The Amer­i­can sto­ry of resent­ment, revenge, and ret­ri­bu­tion. That’s not me.

Analy­sis: Here, Biden spelled out what his val­ues and prin­ci­ples are, and con­trast­ed them with Trump’s tox­ic pol­i­tics of destruc­tion (“resent­ment, revenge, and ret­ri­bu­tion”.) The “oth­er peo­ple my age see it dif­fer­ent­ly” was a great barb.

BIDEN: In my career, I’ve been told I was too young. By the way, they did­n’t let me on the Sen­ate ele­va­tors for votes some­times. They — not a joke. And I’ve been told I am too old. Whether young or old, I’ve always been known — I’ve always known what endures. I’ve known our North Star. The very idea of Amer­i­ca is that we’re all cre­at­ed equal, deserves to be treat­ed equal­ly through­out our lives. We’ve nev­er ful­ly lived up to that idea, but we’ve nev­er walked away from it either. And I won’t walk away from it now.

Analy­sis: The “they did­n’t let me on Sen­ate ele­va­tors for votes some­times” was a great lit­tle anec­dote that hope­ful­ly remind­ed reporters and oth­ers watch­ing that there real­ly was once a time when the rap on Biden was that he was too young. And now, as he acknowl­edged, peo­ple are say­ing he’s too old. Delib­er­ate­ly con­fronting this crit­i­cism head-on was the right choice.

BIDEN: My fel­low Amer­i­cans, the issue fac­ing our nation isn’t how old we are; it’s how old are our ideas. Hate, anger, revenge, ret­ri­bu­tion are the old­est of ideas. But you can’t lead Amer­i­ca with ancient ideas that only take us back. To lead Amer­i­ca, the land of pos­si­bil­i­ties, you need a vision for the future and what can and should be done. Tonight, you’ve heard mine.

Analy­sis: More beau­ti­ful fram­ing here. Pro­gres­sives iden­ti­fy as such because we want to make progress — we want to go for­ward, not back­ward. We know we can’t return to the past, but we can learn from it and do bet­ter in the future. That is what Pres­i­dent Biden believes, and he point­ed out last night that real lead­er­ship entails lead­ing peo­ple to new posi­tions and embrac­ing new ideas. Bravo!

BIDEN: I see a future where [we’re] defend­ing democ­ra­cy, you don’t dimin­ish it. I see a future where we restore the right to choose and pro­tect our free­doms, not take them away. I see a future where the mid­dle class has — final­ly has a fair shot and the wealthy have to pay their fair share in tax­es. I see a future where we save the plan­et from the cli­mate cri­sis and our coun­try from gun vio­lence. Above all, I see a future for all Amer­i­cans. I see a coun­try for all Amer­i­cans. And I will always be Pres­i­dent for all Amer­i­cans because I believe in Amer­i­ca. I believe in you, the Amer­i­can people.

Analy­sis: Com­ing at the end of this speech, these com­ments nice­ly sum­ma­rized Biden’s plat­form and vision as he pre­pared to step away from the podi­um and begin shak­ing hands again. The Pres­i­dent makes no apolo­gies for being an opti­mist, nor should he. Real lead­ers work to bring peo­ple togeth­er for progress, cheer­ful­ly and con­fi­dent­ly. Joe Biden sees pos­si­bil­i­ties when he thinks about the future, and so should we all. The days ahead need­n’t be bleak and ter­ri­ble. A bet­ter future is with­in reach. We’re more like­ly to secure it if we believe in it.

In decades past, Amer­i­ca has sur­vived insur­rec­tions, depres­sions, world wars, and (so far) the threat of nuclear anni­hi­la­tion. And we can pre­vail over the forces of dark­ness again. But we’ll have to come togeth­er to make it hap­pen. Unit­ed, we’ll keep this repub­lic stand­ing. Divid­ed, we’re more like­ly to fall — and fail.

This is a time when courage and good judg­ment are need­ed. Kudos to Pres­i­dent Biden for lay­ing out the choice fac­ing this coun­try so powerfully.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

Adjacent posts