Only WE Can Fix It: Speech by Joe Biden

In the past I’ve written speeches for politicians, like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — tongue-in-cheek speeches they’d never give. But now I’ve written one for Joe Biden that’s for real. It’s my channeling him, with words he could really say. (In fact, I’ve sent it along to Biden’s campaign manager.) Here it is:

 

Today we face an extraordinary crisis.

Four years ago a presidential candidate stood before us and painted a dark picture. “I alone can fix it,” he said.

He was wrong, in every way. Wrong in his fearmongering description of America then. Like calling crime out of control, when in fact it had been steadily falling for twenty years.

Secondly, he was wrong about his own capabilities. He couldn’t fix anything.

But most importantly, it’s wrong for any American leader to say “I alone can fix it.” That’s what a would-be dictator says. A would-be messiah. That’s not what we need; least of all a man with such delusions of grandeur. Our problems only WE can fix.  We Americans, working together. But we do need real leadership — to lead us in thusly joining together to tackle our challenges.

We sure don’t have that now. President Trump gives occasional lip service to unity while he cynically stokes and exploits our divisions. And that divisiveness is really our biggest problem, because it prevents dealing with all others. We can’t solve anything together in the midst of scorched-earth partisan war and mutual hatreds.

So here is my number one pledge to you, my fellow Americans: to do my utmost to work to heal our divisions. I have no naïve illusions about this, it’s an incredibly tough problem. Our partisan tribal bitterness is deeply entrenched. Feelings are intense. Many in each tribe think the other is not just wrong but evil, a threat to all that’s good and holy; and happy talk won’t solve this. But, my God, we have to find our way to rise above it.

One place to start, at least, is to turn down the volume. Restore civility and basic human decency. No more nasty nicknames and taunting tweets. And let me be clear about this: it’s obvious President Trump governs only for his “base” of supporters and cares not a fig for anyone else; but I intend to be president of all  of America. I never want to hear the word “base” again.

We must remember that we still actually have far more in common than what divides us. And the vast majority of Americans, including Republicans, of course are not evil, but are good honest people, sincere in wanting policies that serve our national interests and give us good lives. We just disagree on how to get there. Having a democracy means living alongside people not like you, accepting that their opinions differ, they have a right to those opinions, to argue for them in public debate, and sometimes even to win politically. That’s democracy.

It also means that very often, to reach solutions, we have to compromise with each other. I have a long history of being able to work together with people I disagreed very strongly with. I’ve actually been criticized for that. But it’s not abandoning principles, not being wimpy or surrendering; it’s how to get at least some of what you want, address problems, and move forward. President Lyndon Johnson liked to quote the Bible: “Come, let us reason together.”

Some years ago our postal service issued a stamp with a picture of a lamp saying, “America’s light fueled by truth and reason.” Those two do go hand-in-hand — reasoning together requires knowing what’s really true and what’s not.

This is especially a problem nowadays because of course we’re bombarded with falsehoods. And I am not  talking about the mainstream news media. President Trump once candidly told a reporter that he smears journalists and accuses them of “fake news” so that when bad stuff about him comes out it won’t be believed. Mainstream news media make tremendous efforts to report the truth, and correct the record when they make mistakes. Much unlike President Trump, who wages war on the very concept of truth and has never admitted a mistake in his life.

All this makes it impossible to reason together and deal realistically with our problems. A nationwide poll recently showed 60% of Americans do not trust President Trump about the coronavirus. He has no credibility about anything, and for good reason. Here we’re in one of the greatest crises we’ve ever faced, and if we can’t trust our president about it, I hardly need to spell out how damaging that is.

So here is my second basic pledge: truthfulness. I will always be honest with you.

Now frankly, I know I’ve been called a “gaffe machine.” Somebody once defined a gaffe as accidentally blurting the truth. But seriously, a national candidate has to do a lot of talking, and making zero mistakes is impossible. Like any human, I sometimes misremember things, and my mouth can run ahead of my brain. But I will never deliberately bend the facts or mislead you. If I make an error, I will correct it. If appropriate, I will apologize. In all humility, I’ve done it plenty of times.

So those are my two most basic promises: to do all I possibly can to heal our divisions, and to always be truthful. I realize the words “promises” and “politician” are viewed together with a certain cynicism. But the promises I’m talking about here are not political promises. They are personal. Personal commitments, from my heart, to you, my fellow citizens, about what kind of president, what kind of human being,  I’m striving to be.

America has experienced terrible division before. But even as the Civil War loomed, Abraham Lincoln — the great Republican president — in his First Inaugural Address, still tried to summon “the better angels of our nature.” He could not prevent the war, which killed 600,000 Americans. But even as that bloody war continued, nearing its conclusion, President Lincoln called upon us “to bind up the nation’s wounds,” “with malice toward none, with charity for all.”

Lincoln believed in America. He believed profoundly in the idea of America. The principles, the values, the ideals that this country represents. Government of the people, by the people, for the people. All created equal, with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. E Pluribus Unum — one nation out of many. Truth and reason. With malice toward none, with charity for all.

It is to unite us — to reunite us — in dedication to these principles, values and ideals that I seek to be your president. I humbly ask all Americans to join with me. I will need your help. I alone can’t fix it.

2 Responses to “Only WE Can Fix It: Speech by Joe Biden”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    This is excellent!

  2. Robyn Blumner Says:

    Love it. Stay safe and healthy, my friend.

    Robyn E. Blumner *President and CEO*, Center for Inquiry *Executive Director,* Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science 1012 14th St. NW, Suite 205 Washington, D.C. 20005 RBlumner@centerforinquiry.org 202-733-5276

    The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Our vision is a world where people value evidence and critical thinking, where superstition and prejudice subside, and where science and compassion guide public policy.

    On Thu, Mar 19, 2020 at 2:32 PM The Rational Optimist wrote:

    > rationaloptimist posted: “In the past I’ve written speeches for > politicians, like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — tongue-in-cheek > speeches they’d never give. But now I’ve written one for Joe Biden that’s > for real. It’s my channeling him, with words he could really say. (In fact” >

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