Joe Biden’s remarks in Philadelphia on the ongoing unrest were fundamentally a campaign speech, not a leader in an angry nation. Ava DeSantis writes how Joe Biden’s lack of emphasis on police violence, and focus on the actions of President Donald Trump, illuminate his intentions in Philadelphia today.
Today is the primary election for the Democratic Party Nomination for President in Philadelphia, PA. While Joe Biden is the presumptive nominee, it is clear from his remarks in the city this morning, that he continues to campaign, pivoting towards the general election. Biden began his remarks similar to yesterday’s round table with Mayors from around the country, expressing his remorse for the Black community in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin. Biden repeated Floyd’s last words “I can’t breathe,” “I can’t breathe,” saying these words “didn’t die with him. They’re still being heard. They’re echoing across this nation.” Biden recognized that to be Black in America often “puts your life at risk.” This phenomenon, Biden claimed, is a “wake up call for all of us.”
Focus on President Trump
Biden briefly spoke out against looting, saying “there’s no place for violence, no place for looting or destroying property, or burning churches, and destroying businesses.” He also vaguely criticized police use of “excessive violence,” before moving on to speak about President Trump. Biden criticized President Trump’s deployment of D.C. law enforcement officers to disperse peaceful protestors across the street from the White House Rose Garden for a photo-op with a Bible. Biden accused the President of being “more interested in power than in principle.” Just last night, in Philadelphia, police sprayed protestors with tear gas to enforce a 6 pm Monday night curfew. Biden made no mention of this particular escalation or any further commentary on police brutality towards protestors.
After criticizing President Trump’s use of D.C. law enforcement against peaceful protestors, Biden made his campaign pitch to the nation. He contrasted himself with Trump, who, in his words, “use[s] the [racial wounds that have long plagued this country] for political gain.” Biden promised voters not to “traffic in fear and division.” Biden called for Congress to pass Congressman Jeffries’ bill to outlaw the choke-hold in police work. Beyond supporting this bill, Biden’s advice to racial justice advocates is to support his agenda which would “rectify racial inequities,” primarily through the expansion of Obamacare. Biden also promises, if elected, to increase pay for workers who have been labeled as ‘essential’ during the COVID-19 crisis.
Fundamentally A Campaign Speech
Biden called out to Americans, saying “the moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism.” It is clear that, by “deal with systemic racism,” Biden means vote for him in 2020. Biden addressed Philadelphians today not as citizens of a burning city, but as voters.