Condemning Trump for the pandemic’s catastrophic toll and for stoking white supremacist violence, the Democratic presidential nominee made the case for hope.
Former Vice President Joe Biden formally accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for president in a speech on Thursday, which closed out the Democratic National Convention. In it, he amplified the most prominent themes of the previous nights—compassion, leadership, experience, and hope.
In what Biden has previously described as a “battle for the soul of America,” Biden’s speech—at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del., a few miles where from he grew up—called for unity in a time of division in the United States.
He also sought to instill confidence in the American public, by assuring them that he would “draw on the best of us.” The message being that he would not only appeal to the nation’s more compassionate nature, but also work with a deeply experienced bench of experts to handle the multiple crises confronting the nation: the pandemic, economic collapse, racial injustice, and the climate.
Over four nights, Democrats—and even some Republicans—made the case for Biden, drawing a stark contrast between him and President Trump. Biden himself slammed the president for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. He noted the staggering toll that the virus has had on the nation, which—by nearly all estimations—is faring worse than every other country on earth.
In addition to the pandemic, Biden touched on several events that have shaken the nation since Trump’s election. Among those, he noted Trump’s support of the 2017 Unite the Right rally, which was organized by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va. During that event, white supremacist James Alex Fields, Jr., murdered 32-year-old counterprotester Heather Heyer and injured 19 others after he drove his car into them.
Biden also reflected on the current social justice movement that was inspired by the police murdering George Floyd in Minneapolis this year. He told the story of meeting Floyd’s daughter, and its impact on him while signaling the long history of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1960s through today. “Maybe George Floyd’s murder was the breaking point,” Biden said, “Maybe John Lewis’ passing the inspiration.”
Biden described present-day America as going through a period of darkness, but offered his presidency as a light that would change things. He ended his speech with a powerful call for hope over fear and cynicism. “May history be able to say that the end of this chapter of American darkness began here tonight,” Biden said. “As love and hope and light joined in the battle for the soul of the nation.”
During Biden’s speech, President Trump continued to paint a bleak picture of the U.S. during his own Pennsylvania event. Trump’s continued violent rhetoric is a stark contrast to the future that Democrats have envisioned during their convention this week. Repeatedly touching on themes like family, unity, decency, and respect, Biden’s biography has figured largely.
Sen. Kamala Harris—Biden’s running mate—made the case for Biden on Wednesday night. In her historic address as the first Black woman and the first Indian American woman to formally accept the Democratic nomination for vice president, she argued that Biden’s middle-class upbringing and experiences with grief and loss would help him create a more equitable United States for all.
“Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons,” Harris said. “Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose.”