Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Speech I Want Joe Biden To Give

[Author's Note: I'm not a speech writer by trade, but here's what I would like to hear from the Democratic nominee. Hey Biden campaign, you can call me any time.)

My fellow Americans, we are in the midst of a daunting crisis. We have faced crises this dire in America's history before, but this is like nothing we have seen in our lifetimes. A deadly pandemic is ravaging the country, our economy is in free fall, and people have taken to the streets in massive numbers to protest racism and injustice. In the midst of this our president has been a modern day Nero, tweeting while the nation burns.

His failure to provide leadership and direction on the virus has caused tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths. In the face of mass deprivation he has rewarded large corporations while letting everyday people suffer. His flagrantly racist politics and even cheerleading for police brutality have only fanned the flames of justified discontent. In a truly wretched spectacle he had peaceful protestors gassed so he could pose for a photo opportunity.

We all know that this country cannot move forward with Donald Trump in office. However, it would be a huge mistake to think that this country's troubles only began in January of 2017. Donald Trump did not come out of nowhere, nor did the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police. The past forty years have seen a fearsome rise in economic inequality. Our government has responded mostly by putting more people in prison instead of addressing the root of the problem.

It is here that I must admit that I have been part of the problem. In the 1990s I voted for crime bills motivated by the need to protect citizens, and not cognizant enough of the destructive effects of mass incarceration, especially on the Black community. At the time this approach was very popular.  All of us must admit the failures of the past, and to do better to ensure a brighter future.

We are living in difficult times, and problems such as ours demand solutions to match them. If we are to improve the lives of Americans, we must be willing to make sweeping reforms and remake many of our institutions. For example, the virus has shown that a health care system tied to employment where people lose coverage when they lose their jobs, doesn't work. Furthermore, this system is extremely costly, and leaves millions without protection. We need to have a universal health insurance system, so that every American is taken care of.

Some may argue that this will mean restrictions on freedom, but I say that universal health care will empower the people of this country. It will allow them more freedom to move jobs and switch careers, and the freedom that comes from knowing that an essential part of your life is being taken care of.

We need to expand the social safety net in other ways that will bring freedom. For example, we need to subsidize child care, which will allow more parents the ability to take the jobs they want, children of all backgrounds to be better prepared for school, and to reduce a massive fiscal burden on working families. We must provide low-cost college education so that young people may pursue a better life without being crushed by debt. An America where every citizen can pursue their dream no matter how much money they have is in our reach if we try.

This is nothing new in our history. FDR responded to the Great Depression by creating the minimum wage, social security, and farm subsidies. Abraham Lincoln supported the creation of land grant universities to broaden the reach of higher education. Both presidents understood that the best way to respond to a crisis in this country is to focus on improving the lives of regular people.

We also must listen to the voices of protest in the street. Our cities are segregated and they are policed in racist and violent ways. We must end the war on drugs by legalizing cannabis and decriminalizing other drugs so that addicts can be helped and low-level dealers rehabilitated. We must support affordable housing and not just place it in the poorest areas because that doesn't solve the problem of segregation. Housing, like health care, keeps getting more expensive, even though wages aren't going up. We must demilitarize the police, and reallocate resources from the prison-industrial complex to social welfare. Until we make a true effort for what Martin Luther King called "genuine equality," we will never be able to live up to this nation's promise.

In his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln called the Civil War a "new birth of freedom." This moment of crisis calls for yet another that is long overdue. In addition to making sure all Americans are able to have a decent standard of living, we also must make our system democratic again. Even before Donald Trump took office, Republicans challenged the Voting Rights Act in court and got key provisions overturned. This has led to naked attempts at voter suppression across the country. The long lines we see on election day are a national disgrace. We must fight to ensure the right to vote by setting uniform voter qualifications across the entire country.

Trump promised to "drain the swamp," but instead has become the Swamp Monster in Chief. He has used the government to advance his personal wealth, but his brazen graft is sadly only an extreme version of the corruption causing our system to rot away. We need a Constitutional amendment to limit money in political campaigns so that the people and not the wealth and corporations have the ears of our leaders.

Donald Trump lost by three million votes, yet still became president. It is time to dismantle the electoral college. Due to the machinations of Mitch McConnell, Trump has packed the courts with radical conservatives. I aim to nominate additional justices to better reflect good jurisprudence and the will of the people. We cannot have a country where the person rejected by the majority still gets to be president. That is not democracy.

As my friend Barack liked to say, what is wrong with America can be fixed with what is right with America. Our nation rose to the challenge in the Civil War and Great Depression. We can do it again. I am not running for president merely to unseat an unfit, disastrous Donald Trump. I do so because I love this country and I believe in its future. This crisis presents an opportunity for a true rebirth of freedom. Let us not squander this golden opportunity. The darkest hour comes before the dawn.

No comments: