14 October 2020

Biden's Gettysburg speech


This is 22 minutes, but it's worth watching the entire thing.  It's interesting on multiple levels.

Most obviously, what a relief to see a leader who can speak coherently in complete sentences with an adult vocabulary, and who focuses on ideas instead of toddler-like insults and bragging.  Our country needs to get back to the kind of leadership for which other democracies can feel respect instead of anxiety and incredulity.

The national-unity talk is what he knows he needs to use, to appeal to that large category of voters who have paid no attention to what has actually been going on for the last twelve years.  They need to be told what they want to hear, because they can't handle the truth.

I'm convinced that he actually knows better because he was Obama's VP for eight years.  He saw the Republicans' obstructionism up close and he must know better than anybody that he can no more find common ground with them than with the coronavirus itself.  And if you listen carefully, he shows it here.

After all the talk of unity and building bridges, he says that white supremacy cannot be tolerated.  But that's who they are now, or a great many of them.  That was and is Trump's appeal -- it's how he won the Republican primaries in 2016 despite the opposition of the party establishment, winning the support of the Republican masses, and it's how he retains the fervent loyalty of those same Republican masses to this day, by racist dog whistles that sound more like nuclear air-raid sirens.  To condemn white supremacy rules out reconciliation with the majority of Republicans as they truly are.  Biden knows that.  It's not remotely possible that he doesn't know that.

Biden says that mask-wearing is a scientific prescription and should not be partisan.  But the rejection of science -- and of expertise and education generally -- is a central defining tenet of the American right wing and has been so for decades, on evolution and global warming and homosexuality and now also on the pandemic.  Again, he's defining something integral to the mentality of most Republicans as being unacceptable to the unified consensus-based America he wants.

He rightly extols the vote as the true power and inalienable right of all citizens.  But Republicans for years have used every scheme and scam imaginable to suppress the vote of people unlikely to support them, and are still fighting tooth and nail to do so right now.  He's claiming as a consensus value something that Republicans are grimly determined to destroy.  Again, it's not remotely possible that he doesn't know this or doesn't fully understand the implications.

If there's a message of reconciliation here, it's that right-wingers can be accepted back into American civilization if and only if they renounce most of what now defines being right-wing.

Trump and Trumpism are not some sort of odd aberration from which the Republicans will recover and revert back to being a normal party once Trump is out of office.  They're the natural culmination of where the US right wing has been heading for decades.  Even the Republican leaders and officials who opposed Trump's rise in 2016 now grovel before him, toadying to his every insane whim and pronouncement.

I'm convinced Biden is a lot smarter than most people give him credit for.  He's running this campaign on multiple levels.  He gives the naïve the unity-and-reconciliation talk they want to hear, while signalling to those of us who live in the real world that he, too, lives there.  As president he'll probably make a genuine effort to work with the residual Republican minorities in the House and Senate, and when they spit in his face and pledge their undying hatred and obstructionism as they did with Obama, he can say that he gave it an honest try -- and then he'll get down to doing what needs to be done.

Thanks to Annie Asks You for posting this speech and getting me to think about it.

7 Comments:

Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

It's so refreshing to hear a politician speaking in a coherent, intelligent manner about policy.
These four years of decayed bullshit from IMPOTUS have been mind boggling. Really. The bar is so low it's subterranean at this point. If this country does not elect Biden, I have no idea what I'm going to do. I'd be so mad I will stop talking to people altogether.

XOXO

14 October, 2020 08:05  
Blogger JACKIESUE said...

please goddess, let his be the voice we'll hear for the next 4 years and then Kamalas for another 8

14 October, 2020 12:05  
Blogger Mike said...

" if and only if they renounce"
I don't think I'm going to live long enough to see that.

14 October, 2020 16:04  
Blogger Ami said...

I have hidden many of my family members on the book o' face due to their belief that our current pres is 'godly', 'ordained by gawd' and 'will protect our families'.

I am ashamed to say that many of my own relatives are racists.
When trump said that electing Biden will 'hurt god', at least six more people magically disappeared from my feed after their enthusiastic agreement.

You are absolutely correct, the Republicans aren't going to magically go back to just being what they were, they've been heading for this crazy place for a long time.

I have never been a big fan of Biden, but that has changed during the course of this campaign. I like him more every time I hear him speak. And while I still think our country would be better off without the current political system, I am confident that he will be a good president.

Now if we could just speed up time and get through the election already. Looking forward to the landslide victory and the subsequent tantrums.

15 October, 2020 22:39  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Sixpence: It's utterly bizarre that so many wingnuts still claim Biden's the one who's mentally challenged. They've probably only ever seen edited versions of his speeches contrived to give that impression. But yes, if Trump wins -- which luckily now looks pretty unlikely -- the country will probably be wrecked beyond hope of recovery.

Jackiesue: I'd like to see that!

Mike: Probably not. People hate to admit being fools, or being fooled.

Ami: God must have been pretty hard up if Trump was the best guy he could find. Thank you for your vote. And I think Biden is growing on a lot of people as they get a better look at him.

16 October, 2020 00:31  
Blogger Annie Asks You said...

So very glad that you’re helping this fine and important speech get greater exposure, accompanied by your thoughtful commentary, as usual. And I had a visitor to my blog today who had seen this post on another blog that had reposted it.

I was very troubled when I heard that NBC was giving trump free air time opposite Biden last night, but the juxtaposition seems to have worked quite well. When the choice is framed as “Mister Rogers” vs “your crazy uncle,” democracy has got to win. Right?

16 October, 2020 18:59  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Annie: Thanks. Yes, every time Trump gets time on TV these days he seems to hurt himself with everyone outside his base. He's increasingly hysterical and petulant over the fact that he's losing. It's not a good look.

17 October, 2020 20:53  

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