President Joe Biden was supposed to have been working on a Jeffersonian-like speech to unite the nation and collectively heal the wounds and soothe the consciences of Americans.
Instead? We got a flat Sprite and saltines.
Worse than that was the content of the speech. More shibboleth than substance, Biden offered very little to the 74 million Americans who after watching five months of Antifa violence, 19 dead, 400+ wounded LEOs, billions of dollars in property damages and hundreds of shuttered businesses are now being told that the new paradigm is unity… or else:
Folks, this is a time of testing. We face an attack on our democracy and on truth. A raging virus, growing inequity, the sting of systemic racism, a climate in crisis. America’s role in the world. Any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways. But the fact is, we face them all at once. Presenting this nation with one of the gravest responsibilities we’ve had. Now we’re going to be tested.
Are we going to step up, all of us? It’s time for boldness, for there is so much to do. And this is certain. I promise you, we will be judged, you and I, by how we resolve these cascading crises of our era. We will rise to the occasion, is the question. Will we master this rare and difficult hour?
The fist behind this velvet glove — and it was intended to manufacture a mandate where the American people sent no such thing to Washington — is perceptible. Unity over the progressive causes vs. a return to the disunity and violence (driven by the left) of the Trump era.
One might argue that we were expecting a more Jeffersonian speech, where upon a bitter race that elected John Adams to the presidency in 1796, Jefferson took a second shot at the presidency in 1800 and despite a constitutional crisis carried the day. Jefferson’s words were far more inspiring and palatable:
Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions. During the throes and convulsions of the ancient world, during the agonizing spasms of infuriated man, seeking through blood and slaughter his long-lost liberty, it was not wonderful that the agitation of the billows should reach even this distant and peaceful shore; that this should be more felt and feared by some and less by others, and should divide opinions as to measures of safety. But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists.
Jefferson’s concern about religious divisions — the old “wars of religion” that over the previous 200 years had ripped Europe apart — being resolved by Americans only to be replaced by the wars of ideology are both apt and prophetic. Surely the long and bloody history of the Napoleonic Era and First and Second World Wars have demonstrated this to be the case.
Yet instead of “every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle” Americans were treated to little more than a scolding by Biden. Instead of “we are all Republicans, we are all Federalists” we were treated to a discourse on unity — Biden’s vision of it, anyhow.
What is the definition of this unity, you might ask? By stepping up to resolve Biden’s progressive concerns (of course). Otherwise, we are succumbing to the divisions of the Trump era — to implicit threats of Antifa violence and the prospect of the imposition of progressive values rather than the slow boil their institutions have been treating us to over the last two decades or more.
Whatever Biden’s handlers thought they were going to accomplish with this speech, they did. Platitudes were offered, soothing words were given in the style of Richard III… but no substance was given other than this: that the measure of American patriotism will be the degree by which one succumbs to Biden’s progressive vision.
That doesn’t sound like a unifying speech to me. Nor should it, dear reader, to you.