Aug 21, 2020
Joe Biden 2020 DNC Speech Transcript
Former VP and Presidential Nominee Joe Biden’s 2020 DNC speech on August 20. Read the transcript of his address here.
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Joe Biden: (00:00)
The civil rights movement left us with this wisdom, give people light and they will find the way. Give people light. Those are words for our time. The current president has cloaked America in darkness for much too long. Too much anger, too much fear, too much division. Here and now I give you my word, if you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I’ll be an ally of the light, not the darkness. It’s time for us, for we the people to come together. And make no mistake. United we can and will overcome this season of darkness in America. We’ll choose hope over fear, facts over fiction, fairness over privilege. I’m a proud Democrat, and I’ll be proud to carry the banner of our party into the general election. So it’s with great honor and humility, I accept this nomination for president of the United States of America.
Joe Biden: (01:14)
But while I’ll be a democratic candidate, I will be an American president. I’ll work hard for those who didn’t support me, as hard for them as I did for those who did vote for me. That’s the job of a president. To represent all of us, not just our base or our party. This is not a partisan moment. This must be an American moment. It’s a moment that calls for hope, and light, and love. Hope for our future, light to see our way forward, and love for one another. America isn’t just a collection of clashing interest, of red states or blue states. We’re so much bigger than that. We’re so much better than that. Now, nearly a century ago, Franklin Roosevelt pledged a new deal in a time of massive unemployment, uncertainty, and fear. Stricken by a disease, stricken by a virus, FDR insisted that he would recover and prevail and he believed America could as well. And he did and we can as well.
Joe Biden: (02:23)
This campaign isn’t just about winning votes. It’s about winning the heart, and yes, the soul of America. Winning it for the generous among us, not the selfish. Winning it for workers who keep this country going, not just the privileged few at the top. Winning it for those communities who have known the injustice of a knee on the neck. For all of the young people who have known only America being a rising inequity and shrinking opportunity. They deserve the experience of America’s promise. They deserve to experience it in full. No generation never knows what history will ask of it. All we can ever know is whether we’re ready when that moment arrives. And now history has delivered us to one of the most difficult moments America’s ever faced. Four, four historic crises, all at the same time. A perfect storm, the worst pandemic in over a hundred years, the worst economic crisis since The Great Depression, the most compelling call for racial justice since the sixties and the undeniable [inaudible 00:03:37] and just the accelerating threats of climate change.
Joe Biden: (03:44)
So the question for us is simple. Are we ready? I believe we are. We must be. All elections are important but we know in our bones, this one is more consequential. As many have said, America’s at an inflection point, a time of real peril, but also of extraordinary possibilities. We can choose a path of becoming angrier, less hopeful, more divided, a path of shadow and suspicion, or we can choose a different path and together take this chance to heal, to reform, to unite, a path of hope and light. This is a life-changing election. This will determine what America is going to look like for a long, long time. Character is on the ballot, compassion is on the ballot, decency, science, democracy, they’re all on the ballot. Who we are as a nation, what we stand for, and most importantly, who we want to be, that’s all on the ballot. And the choice could not be more clear. No rhetoric is needed. Just judge this president on the facts.
Joe Biden: (05:01)
5 million Americans infected by COVID-19. More than 170,000 Americans have died. By far the worst performance of any nation on earth. More than 50 million people have filed for unemployment this year. More than 10 million people are going to lose their health insurance this year. Nearly one in six, small businesses have closed this year. And this president, if he’s re-elected, you know what will happen. Cases and deaths will remain far too high. More mom and pop businesses will close their doors, and this time for good. Working families will struggle to get by, and yet the wealthiest 1% will get tens of billions of dollars in new taxes breaks and the assault on the Affordable Care Act will continue until it’s destroyed, taking insurance away from more than 20 million people, including more than 15 million people on Medicaid, and getting rid of the protections that President Obama worked so hard to get passed for a hundred million more people who have preexisting conditions.
Joe Biden: (06:16)
And speaking of President Obama, a man I was honored to serve alongside for eight years as vice president. Let me take this moment to say something we don’t say nearly enough. Thank you, Mr. President, you were a great president, a president that our children could and did look up to. No one’s going to say that about the current occupant of the White House. What you know about this president is if he’s given four more years, he’ll be what he’s been for the last four years. The president takes no responsibility, refuses to lead, blames others, cozies up to dictators, and fans the flames of hate and division. He’ll wake up every day believing that job is all about him, never about you. Is that the America you want for you, your family, your children? I see a different America, one that’s generous and strong, selfless, and humble. It’s an America we could rebuild together.
Joe Biden: (07:21)
As president the first step I will take would be to get control of the virus that has ruined so many lives because I understand something this president hasn’t from the beginning, we will never get our economy back on track, we will never get our kids safely back in schools, we’ll never have our lives back until we deal with this virus. The tragedy of where we are today is it didn’t have to be this bad. Just look around. It’s not this bad in Canada, or Europe, or Japan, or almost anywhere else in the world. And the president keeps telling us, the virus is going to disappear. He keeps waiting for a miracle. Well, I have news for him. No miracle is coming. We lead the world in confirmed cases, we lead the world in deaths. Our economy is in tatters, with Black, Latino, Asian-American, Native American communities bearing the brunt of it. And after all this time, the president still does not have a plan.
Joe Biden: (08:28)
Well, I do. If I’m your president, on day one, we’ll implement the national strategy I’ve been laying out since March. We’ll develop and deploy rapid tests for the results available immediately. We’ll make the medical supplies and protective equipment that our country needs, and we’ll make them here in America, so we will never again be at the mercy of China or other foreign countries in order to protect our own people. We’ll make sure our schools have the resources they need to be open, safe, and effective. We’ll put politics aside. We’ll take the muzzle off our experts, so the public gets the information they need and deserve, honest unvarnished truth. They can handle it. We’ll have a national mandate to wear a mask, not as a burden, but as a patriotic duty to protect one another. In short, we’ll do what we should have done from the very beginning. Our current president has failed in his most basic duty to the nation. He’s failed to protect us. He’s failed to protect America. And my fellow Americans, that is unforgivable.
Joe Biden: (09:50)
As president, I’ll make you a promise. I’ll protect America, I will defend us from every attack, seen and unseen, always, without exception, every time. Look, I understand. I understand how hard it is to have any hope right now. On this summer night, let me take a moment to speak to those you who have lost the most. I have some idea how it feels to lose someone you love. I know that deep black hole that opens up in the middle of your chest and you feel like you’re being sucked into it. I know how mean, and cruel, and unfair life can be sometimes. But I’ve learned two things. First, your loved one may have left this earth, but they’ll never leave your heart. They’ll always be with you, you always hear them. And second, I’ve found the best way through pain and loss and grief is to find purpose. As God’s children, each of us have a purpose in our lives.
Joe Biden: (11:01)
We have a great purpose as a nation to open the doors of opportunity to all Americans, to save our democracy, to be a light to the world once again, and finally, to live up to and make real the words written in the sacred documents that founded this nation, that all men and women are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights among them, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. My dad was an honorable, decent man. He got knocked down a few times, pretty hard, but he always got back up. He worked hard and he built a great middle class life for our family. He used to say, “Joey, I don’t expect the government to solve my problems, but I sure in hell expect them to understand them.” And then he’d say, “Joey, a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about your place in the community. It’s about being able to look your kid in the eye and say, ‘Honey, it’s going to be okay,’ and mean it.”
Joe Biden: (12:13)
I’ve never forgotten those lessons. That’s why my economic plan is all about jobs, dignity, respect, and community. Together we can and will rebuild our economy. And when we do, we’ll not only build back, we’ll build back better, with modern roads, bridges, highways, broadband, ports and airports as a new foundation for economic growth, with pipes of transport, clean water, to every community, with 5 million new manufacturing and technology jobs so the future is made in America. With a healthcare system that lowers premiums, deductibles, drug prices, by building on the Affordable Care Act he’s trying to rip away. With an education system that trains our people for the best jobs of the 21st century. There’s not a single thing american workers can’t do. And where cost doesn’t prevent young people from going to college and student debt doesn’t crush them when they get out. With a childcare and eldercare system that makes it possible for parents to go to work and for the elderly to stay in their homes with dignity. With an immigration system that powers our economy and reflects our values.
Joe Biden: (13:36)
And with newly empowered labor unions. They’re the ones that build the middle class. With equal pay for women, with rising wages you could raise a child on, a family on. And yes, we’re going to do more than praise our essential workers. We’re finally going to pay them. Pay them. We can and we will deal with climate change. It’s not only a crisis, it’s an enormous opportunity, an opportunity for America to lead the world in clean energy and create millions of new, good-paying jobs in the process. And we can pay for these investments by ending loopholes, unnecessary loopholes, and the president’s $1.3 trillion tax giveaway to the wealthiest 1% and the biggest, most profitable corporations, some of which do not pay any tax at all. Because we don’t need a tax code that rewards wealth more than it rewards work. I’m not looking to punish anyone. Far from it. But it’s long past time the wealthiest people and the biggest corporations in this country paid their fair share.
Joe Biden: (14:51)
And for our seniors, social security is a sacred obligation, a sacred promise made they paid for. The current president is threatening to break that promise. He’s proposing to eliminate a tax that pays for almost half the social security, without any way of making up for that loss revenue, resulting in cuts. I will not let that happen. If I’m your president, we’re going to protect social security and Medicare. You have my word. One of the most powerful voices we hear in the country today is from our young people. They’re speaking to the inequity and injustice that has grown up in America. Economic injustice, racial injustice, environmental injustice. I hear their voices, if you listen, you can hear them too. And whether it’s the existential threat posed by climate change, the daily fear of being gunned down in school, or the inability to get started in your first job, it will be the work of the next president to restore the promise of America to everyone. And I’m not going to have to do it alone because I’ll have a great vice president at my side, Senator Kamala Harris.
Joe Biden: (16:18)
She’s a powerful voice for this nation. Her story is the American story. She knows about all the obstacles thrown in the way of so many in our country, women, Black women, Black Americans, South Asian Americans, immigrants, the left out and the left behind, but she’s overcome every obstacle she’s ever faced. No one’s been tougher on the big banks and the gun lobby. No one has been tougher in calling out the current administration for its extremism, its failure to follow the law, its failure to simply tell the truth. Kamala and I both draw from our families. That’s where we get our strength. For Kamala it’s Doug and their families. For me, it’s Jill and ours. I’ve said many times, no man deserves one great love in his life, let alone two. But I’ve known two. After losing my first wife in that car accident, Jill came into my life. She put our family back together. She’s an educator, a mom, a military mom, and an unstoppable force. If she puts her mind to it, just get out of the way. She’s going to get it done.
Joe Biden: (17:35)
She was a great second lady and I know she’ll make a great first lady for this nation. She loves this country so much. And I’ll always have the strength that can only come from family. Hunter, Ashley, all our grandchildren, my brothers, my sister, they give me courage, they lift me up. While he’s no longer with us, Beau inspires me every day. Beau served our nation in uniform, a year in Iraq, a decorated Iraqi war veteran. So I take very personally the profound responsibility of serving as commander in chief. I’ll be a president who’ll stand with our allies and friends and make it clear to our adversaries, the days of cozying up to dictators is over. Under President Biden, america will not turn a blind eye to Russian bounties on their heads of American soldiers, nor will I put up with foreign interference in our most sacred democratic exercise, voting. And I’ll always stand for our values of human rights and dignity.
Joe Biden: (18:56)
I’ll work in common purpose for more secure, peaceful, and prosperous world. History has thrust one more urgent task on us. Will we be the generation that finally wipes out the stain of racism from our national character? I believe we’re up to it. I believe we’re ready. Just a week ago yesterday, was the third anniversary of the events in Charlottesville. Close your eyes, remember what you saw on television. Remember seeing those neo-Nazis, and Klansmen, and white supremacists coming out of fields with lighted torches, veins bulging, spewing the same anti-Semitic bile heard across Europe in the thirties. Remember the violent clash that ensued between those spreading hate, and those with the courage to stand against it. Remember what the president said when asked. He said they were “very fine people on both sides.” It was a wake up call for us as a country, and for me, a call to action. At that moment, I knew I’d have to run, because my father taught us that silence was complicity, and I can never remain silent or complicit. At the time, I said we’re in the battle for the soul of this nation, and we are.
Joe Biden: (20:33)
One of the most important conversations I’ve had this entire campaign. It was so someone who was much too young to vote. I met with six year old Gianna Floyd the day before her daddy, George Lloyd was laid to rest. She’s an incredibly brave little girl and I’ll never forget it. When I leaned down to speak to her, she looked in my eyes and she said, and I quote, “Daddy changed the world.” Daddy changed the world. Her words burrowed deep into my heart. Maybe George Floyd’s murder was a breaking point. Maybe John Lewis’ passing is the inspiration. But however it’s come to be, however it’s happened, America’s ready in John’s words, to lay down, quote, “The heavy burden of hate at last.” And in the hard work of rooting out our systemic racism. American history tells us that it’s been in our darkest moments that we’ve made our greatest progress, that we found the light. In this dark moment, I believe we’re poised to make great progress again, that we can find the light once more.
Joe Biden: (22:05)
Many people have heard me say this but I’ve always believed you can define America in one word, possibilities. The defining feature of America, everything is possible. That in America, everyone, and I mean, everyone should be given an opportunity to go as far as their dreams and God-given ability will take them. We can never lose that. In times as challenging as these, I believe there’s only one way forward, as united America, a united America, united in our pursuit of a more perfect union. United in our dreams of a better future for us and for our children. United in our determination to make the coming years bright. Are you ready? I believe we are. This is a great nation. We’re good and decent people. For Lord’s sake this is the United States of America, and there’s never been anything we’ve been able to accomplish when we’ve done it together.
Joe Biden: (23:15)
The Irish poet, Seamus Heaney once wrote, “History says, don’t hope on this side of the grave, but then, once in a lifetime, the longed-for tidal wave of justice can rise up and hope and history rhyme.” This is our moment to make hope and history rhyme with passion and purpose. Let us begin you and I together, one nation, under God, united in our love for America, united in our love for each other. For love is more powerful than hate, hope is more powerful than fear, and light is more powerful than dark. This is our moment, this is our mission. May history be able to say that the end of this chapter of American darkness began here tonight as love and hope and light join in the battle for the soul of the nation. And this is a battle we will win and we’ll do it together. I promise you. Thank you, and may God bless you, and may God protect our troops.