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La Cañada High School

Opinion: Biden’s speech reminds us it is our moment to make ‘hope and history rhyme’

The long-awaited speech by presidential hopeful, Joe Biden, shed a light on how his candidacy and possible presidency will be. Many of us questioned his fitness as he is 77 years old and a lot of young people saw his candidacy as a disappointment or something that Democrats had to settle for. But in his speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night, he showed us a different side to him. 

Joe Biden began with blanket statements about what his campaign will be about: “Hope over Fear. Facts over fiction. Fairness over privilege.” He clearly was playing on aspects of Donald Trump’s life and presidency, one that was defined by fear, fake news and his own privilege.

Biden tried to appeal, not just to his base and party, but to the entire country. Just as the entire convention attempted, Joe Biden was speaking to moderates and swing voters. He framed his campaign as more than politics, but as a marker in American history and a symbol of American values. And he promised to be an example for our country and our country’s children.

Biden used President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to show us the value of a strong, value-driven leader. He reminded us that “stricken by a virus, FDR insisted that he would recover and prevail and he believed America could as well.” Biden implied that the leader of our country — his life and his values — is tied to us and that Joe’s life shows us that perseverance is possible. 

He addressed the “historic crises” that America faces today: racial injustice, an economic crisis, a global pandemic and the imminent threats of climate change. Biden framed the 2020 election as a pivotal moment, where America is at the intersection of “real peril” and “extraordinary possibilities.” He looked to the future of what our country could be and how we could move from where we are now to a better America. 

Biden then shifted to something closer to politics. He used specific statistics: “5 million Americans have been infected … 170,000 have died … 50 million have filed for unemployment … more than 10 million will lose their health insurance … 1 in 6 small businesses will close.”

Biden painted a dire picture of the United States and argued that things will only get worse if Trump wins a second term and, implicitly, better under a Biden presidency. He brought up these specific policy points in his speech: rapid testing, using American manufacturing to produce protective equipment, delivering supplies to schools and instituting a national mandate to wear masks. 

Biden continued on policy points and spoke to middle-class families. He talked about policies for better jobs, job training and expanding healthcare. All of which are essential issues for middle-class Americans, women and families. He continued his appeal to “the forgotten” and explained that he and Kamala Harris share family values and have overcome obstacles that are familiar to many Americans and American workers.  

Biden then spoke directly to people who’ve lost loved ones, using his own experience with loss. He told them, “I know the deep black hole that opens up in your chest” and reassured them, “The best way through pain and loss and grief is to find purpose.”

He told us about losing his wife and two of his children and showed us how that has come to shape who he is as a person and a politician. Joe Biden revealed himself as a genuine person who has faced hardship, understands what everyday Americans go through and knows how to persevere. 

Finally, he brought the country back to the moment in Charlottesville and recalled Trump’s words, “‘there were fine people on both sides’” as his call to action.

He told us the words of George Floyd’s daughter, “daddy changed the world” that inspired him and showed him that we were at a “breaking point.” He said American history tells us, “it was in our darkest moments…that we found the light.”

Biden used symbols of previous democratic candidates, Obama’s hope and Hillary Clinton’s unity, to remind us what the country was and could have been.

He ended his speech with, “love and hope and light join in the battle for the soul of the nation.”

Biden showed us that his campaign will be about more than politics and tried to persuade moderates to understand the value of decency in a president.