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Archive for the ‘California Politics’ Category



Why Trump’s Convention Will Be Purely Negative

Monday, August 24th, 2020

buchananIn 1992, at the GOP national convention, Patrick Buchanan declared, “There is a religious war going on in this country. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we shall be as was the Cold War itself, for this war is for the soul of America.”

It was a bone-chilling call to fascism. If you were in the hall in Houston, your hair stood on end. It was a terrifying vision and it backfired: by November, Bill Clinton and Al Gore had won that war. And the rabid forces Buchanan had set loose went into hibernation for 24 years as “regular” Republican and Democratic administrations governed in Washington.

Then came Donald Trump in 2016, who — tapping into those racist, misogynist, xenophobic and authoritarian impulses that had been tamped down all those years — eeked out a win in the Electoral College by the narrowest of margins in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, setting loose the screeching, flying monkeys, snarling beasts and poisonous insects that had been stashed away in America’s Pandora’s Box.

Principled conservatives — those who believe in freedom, personal responsibility, free markets, protection of American interests and government by compromise and negotiation – have fled the Republican Party, leaving it hollowed out of ideas and dedicated only to the adoration and preservation of its leader. That is who will rally tonight and throughout the week.

Donald Trump will speak all four nights but not as president. Joe Biden stole that platform from him last week with a remarkable presidential address at the DNC, in which he flipped the narrative, turning himself into the incumbent and Trump into the challenger.

Trump – although he has been in the White House for three-and-a-half years – has been reduced to gripe, grievance and whinge while Biden is laying out purpose, program and possibilities. Trump’s party has literally abandoned is platform, replacing it with a manifesto for the pitchfork brigade that seeks only to crush the liberals, infuriate the news media and exult the loose-screw conspiracies of Qanon.

Trump has proved he will not or – as the malignant narcissist that he is – cannot expand his base of voters. All that is left as a strategy is to reduce the overall vote and the Biden-Harris vote in hopes of turning his 40-45% base into a majority in the Electoral College. Trump cannot add; he can only subtract.

philjerryPat Buchanan’s culture war is upon us but this time without the deep-seeded principles that guided Buchanan himself. This time is it just a bloody pitched battle between decency and indecency.

For a full-fledged discussion by your Calbuzzers looking forward to the GOP convention, click here.

Biden Should Go Positive — Decency for a Change

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020

decencyNow that he’s got California Sen. Kamala Harris for his running mate, former Vice President Joe Biden has one key task: Sell himself to voters in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. With a Harris as his running mate, hopefully he’ll boost the black vote in Milwaukee, Detroit and Philadelphia over Hillary Clinton’s disappointing showing in 2016.

To that end, Phil and David Trounstine have produced a positive ad with the goal in mind of attracting the attention of the Biden campaign to the message it hammers home: Hard head. Soft heart, Joe Biden for President. Decency for a Change.

This is not an ad for TV. Pros should put that together. It’s a suggestion for how an ad might be shaped and what its fundamental message should be. Calbuzz is pleased to show it to our readers and, hopefully, to the Biden campaign. Here’s a link to the ad.

 

 

 

 

Why Joe Biden Should Pick Kamala Harris for Veep

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020

bidenharrisThirteen Tuesdays before Election Day (that’s 91 days until Nov. 3, for those keeping score at home) the most intriguing political question of the week is who will become Joe Biden’s Joe Biden.

The Veep Speculation Sweepstakes is in high gear, with the former Vice President and presumptive Democratic challenger to Donald Trump having signaled he will announce his selection of a running mate soon. So Newsmakers reached out to ace California political analyst Phil Trounstine, our partner at Calbuzz, to join in a workout of heavy duty punditry.

Biden pledged in his last primary debate with Bernie Sanders that he would select a women for vice-president and, since the police killing of George Floyd ignited the Black Lives Matter protests, he has come under increasing political pressure to choose a Black woman, who also would represent the most loyal cohort among Democratic voters
We’ve been out of the prediction racket since the early days of the President Hillary Clinton Administration, so rather than forecasting who Biden will choose, we kicked around the question of who he should choose, based on a series of oft-used criteria of choice for a running mate who can aid in victory, variously, by:
  • Helping win a state or a region (as elite Easterner John F. Kennedy chose the Texan Lyndon Johnson in 1960).
  • Healing an ideological rift in the party from the nominating campaign (as when conservative Ronald Reagan selected the more moderate George H.W. Bush in 1980).
  • Juicing turnout among a particular demographic (viz. Walter Mondale’s bold, if wildly unsuccessful, pick of Rep. Geraldine Ferraro in 1984).
  • Buttressing a weakness in the presidential nominee (Biden bolstered Barack Obama in 2008 with both Washington experience and foreign policy chops).
  • Doubling down on a strength (with Al Gore on the ticket, Bill Clinton in 1992 sent a clear message that the Democratic Party was moving towards the center and away from traditional liberalism).
  • Doing no harm (the most important qualification of all, famously ignored when Bush I inexplicably opted for Dan Quayle in 1988 and John McCain even more improbably decided on Sarah Palin in 2008).

Based on those touchstones — and the more ineffable standard of being prepared to take over as president in an emergency — the Calbuzzards ended with this ranking of the nine women most widely reported to be on Biden’s list:

Kamala Harris. The California Senator notoriously tried to rip Biden’s face off on the issue of school segregation during a primary debate, and some among the nominee’s inner circle fear she’d be more focused on advancing her own 2024 ambitions than pitching in as a team player. But Harris’s substantive if brief presidential bid makes her one of the few among the veep field who’s been scrutinized seriously by the national media, a process that showed her record as a professional prosecutor can play as both a strength and a weakness, depending on the ideology of the voter looking at her.

Close readers of Calbuzz will note that in recommending Harris as Biden’s No. 1 pick, we are cutting directly against our longtime critique of Harris as a politician with positions, not convictions, a successful climber who has almost always done only what is best for herself at virtually every turn. We don’t retract any of that. But it’s  also our view that from the standpoint of electing Biden, Harris is the most useful pick. And with the right seasoning — acting as No. 2, taking direction from the president and handling tasks given her — Harris could develop into someone who is a believable president. She’s the right age, demographic and gender; she has a national following and reputation; she’s experienced and deft on the campaign trail, and she just might help boost the Black vote in Milwaukee, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

Karen Bass. The Los Angeles congresswoman, the first African-American woman to serve as Speaker of the California Assembly, who now heads the Congressional Black Caucus, emerged as a surprise contender in recent weeks, buoyed in large part by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other allies in the House. Bass is a model inside legislator and bridge-builder, but she came up as a lefty community activist in the Rodney King era and her days as a fanboy of Fidel Castro could prove dicey in Florida, where Biden could snuff Trump’s re-election hopes, and the headline of an introductory interview on network TV this week – “I am not a communist” – won’t likely help her chances.

Keisha Lance Bottoms. The mayor of Atlanta has won high marks nationally, not only for her leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic, including her widely-publicized clash with Georgia Governor and Trump acolyte Brian Kemp over the issue of requiring face masks in public, but also during the protests that erupted in her city after the death of George Floyd. She endorsed Biden early, but going from serving two-and-a-half years as a mayor to one heartbeat from the presidency is a stretch, particularly for someone who’s never been examined on the national political stage.

4-Susan Rice. The former UN Ambassador and National Security Advisor under President Obama has more foreign policy credentials than all the other candidates combined and if Biden was looking for a governing choice exclusive of politics, Rice would top the list. But she’s a longtime inside player in Washington who has zero experience in exercising the very different skill set of a candidate, not to mention that, along with Hillary Clinton, she was the public face of the Administration amid the fallout from the terrorist attack that killed the U.S. Ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya in 2012, a debacle that Republicans and Trump would love to re-litigate in the last three months of the campaign in an effort to change the subject from the pandemic, the protests and soaring unemployment rolls.

5-Val Demings. A House member from Florida, Demings has an inspiring personal story of working herself up from poverty to a distinguished career in law enforcement, including service as the first woman to become chief of the Orlando Police Department. She served as one of the Democrats’ managers of the Senate impeachment trial of Trump, but like Harris, her long record as a cop not only might help Biden with moderate and conservative voters but also could turn off younger and more progressive parts of the Democratic party, not least because of a record of excessive force allegations in the Orlando department, and a lack of transparency about them, some of which occurred during her tenure as chief.

Gretchen Whitmer. The governor of Michigan was widely touted in the media as a possible running mate in the early days after Biden clinched the nomination, but has faded as the Black Lives Matter protests seem to have made it more likely he will choose a woman of color. Although her leadership during the pandemic earned generally high ratings from state voters, she also has been the focus of angry protests against her stay-at-home orders, and her lack of testing in national politics might represent too high a risk for a politician from a state Biden absolutely can’t lose in his bid for 270 electoral votes.

Michelle Lujan Grisham. The governor of New Mexico, Grisham is a former member of Congress who, amid the Democrats’ 2018 “blue wave” election, became the first Latina of her party in history to be elected a state’s chief executive. A strong advocate of abortion rights, climate change action and gun control, Grisham potentially could help boost Latino voter turnout in Arizona and other key states, but Biden would likely face considerable disappointment from Black voters if he passed over Harris, Bass, Bottoms, Rice and Demings to choose her.

8-Tammy Duckworth. The Illinois Senator lost both her legs in combat as an Army helicopter pilot during the Iraq war and her extraordinary personal story also includes being the first woman with a disability elected to Congress and the first U.S. Senator to give birth in office. Daughter of an American father and a Thai mother, she was born in Thailand, and Republicans could be expected to try to raise “birther” arguments against her candidacy, which could prove a distraction to the Biden campaign.

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Elizabeth Warren. The Massachusetts Senator ran a spirited Democratic primary race against Biden, but her progressive platform on issues from taxes to health care and climate change make her popular with the party’s left-wing, so she could help turnout among those who backed her or Senator Bernie Sanders. Biden has adapted some of her stances since the primary, but despite polling that shows her pick would be popular, she’s a long shot, not least because she is close in age to the 77-year old Biden, throwing light on one of his big weaknesses.

JR

Watch the Calbuzz conversation by clicking below and…the podcast version is here.

Images: Karen Bass and Kamala Harris have (oneblog.com); Harris (NBC News); Bass (ballotpedia); Bottoms (Atlanta Magazine); Rice (Wikipedia); Demings (Wikiepedia); Whitmer (michigan.gov); Grisham (twitter); Duckworth (Wikipedia); Warren (Twitter).

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Why Police Must Be Brought Under Civilian Control

Tuesday, June 16th, 2020

communitycontrol

By Phil Trounstine and Garry South
Special to the Sacramento Bee

In our many collective decades of covering and engaging in local, state and national politics, we have been frustrated by the failure of city councils, boards of supervisors, state legislatures and Congress to effectively eradicate abusive behavior by the minority of law enforcement officers who are nurtured and protected by a culture of corruption in many jurisdictions.

While we respect the dedicated men and women who serve and protect our towns, cities, counties and states, we have zero tolerance for those who, under the color of law, harass, beat, maim and murder our fellow citizens. Most often the victims are poor, black, brown and Asian. Too often, the perpetrators go unpunished.

What is to Be Done? The question facing communities across the country is this: How can civilians at the local level gain control over law enforcement agencies in the same way the Constitution subjects the armed forces to civilian command?

Of course, many social service interventions that police now handle should be re-allocated to other agencies along with funding. But the answer to “What Is To Be Done?  is decidedly not “defund the police” – a frightening slogan that suggests a naïve belief that we would be better off without law enforcement. Rather, we should be advocating community control — independent and empowered civilian review of police conduct.

Sadly, the principal obstacle to independent civilian review are police associations, which see “outside” interference as a threat to standards and practices, chain of command and especially collective bargaining for wages, pensions, promotions and job security.

Beyond Collective Bargaining Police associations are essentially labor unions, just like carpenters, teamsters, steel workers and teachers. In most places, having the imprimatur of the police unions remains critical to electoral success, often creating enormous conflicts for elected officials. This is particularly true for Democratic candidates, who are routinely derided by their Republican opponents as being “soft on crime.” Being able to boast of the endorsements of rank-and-file police officers through their police associations is often viewed as an antidote to these attacks.

But such endorsements are often based not on legitimate law enforcement issues, but rather the candidates’ support — expressed publicly or often in closed-door meetings or in undisclosed questionnaires — on union issues such as binding arbitration, the right to strike, working conditions and pensions. And being in political debt to police unions can cause Democratic officeholders, who would normally be expected to speak out most strongly against unfair treatment of minorities, to mute their criticism or hedge their responses when such incidents occur.

One thing we are both sure of: Given the times we are in, with massive public support for policing reforms after the killing of George Floyd, candidates and elected officials, regardless of party, should come down on the side of supporting the public interest, not pandering to police unions for fear of being branded as weak on public safety by an opportunistic opponent. That means supporting civilian control of the police.

Various Reforms One community that has addressed the issue of civilian control is New Orleans, with its Office of the Independent Police Monitor, created in 2008 after six years of meetings and study that researched more than 100 U.S. cities with some form of civilian oversight of police.

Sunnyvale, California, doesn’t have a police department per se but a fully integrated Office of Public Safety, in which police, fire, and emergency medical services are provided by officers trained in all three disciplines.

Democrats in Congress have recently proposed the Justice in Policing Act that would ban chokeholds, limit qualified immunity for police officers, create national misconduct registry, end use of no-knock drug warrants and make lynching a federal crime

Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York has proposed “Say Their Name” legislation to make public all police conduct records, criminalize false police reporting and more.

These kinds of reforms and approaches to community control are all worthwhile. But whatever form it takes, the single most important principle and practice ultimately is civilian control.

To make that happen, state legislatures and Congress should condition funding on establishment of some form of independent civilian review of police behavior with – despite almost certain police union opposition – the authority to discipline and/or discharge police officers proved to have engaged in abusive behavior.

This piece was originally published in the Sacramento Bee on June 16, 2020.

Phil Trounstine served as political editor of the San Jose Mercury News, communications director for Gov. Gray Davis, founder of the Survey and Policy Research Institute at San Jose State and now is editor and publisher of Calbuzz. Garry South, a veteran Democratic political strategist, has managed four California campaigns for governor and two for lieutenant governor, and played leading roles in three presidential campaigns. 

 

Biden, Sounding Like a President, Confronts Racism

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020

bidenspeechracismJoe Biden addressed the three crises facing America – the pandemic, the economic depression and the racism ripping apart the social contract — during a forceful speech in Philadelphia this morning — about twelve hours after Donald Trump ordered a peaceful protest violently broken up to stage a photo op.

As a policy matter, the comments by the anticipated Democratic nominee for President were most notable in calling for “an era of action to reverse systemic racism,” while outlining far-reaching proposals to reform police departments, including a “national police oversight commission.”

As a political matter, the speech was significant, not only as a marker of Biden’s re-emergence into the presidential campaign from quarantine — just 154 days before the election — but as a reminder of what a president whose goal is to unify, rather than to divide, the nation, sounds like.

The full text of Biden’s speech, as prepared for delivery, is worth a read:

“I can’t breathe.” “I can’t breathe.”
George Floyd’s last words. But they didn’t die with him. They’re still being heard. They’re echoing across this nation. They speak to a nation where too often just the color of your skin puts your life at risk.
They speak to a nation where more than 100,000 people have lost their lives to a virus — and 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment — with a disproportionate number of these deaths and job losses concentrated in black and brown communities.
And they speak to a nation where every day millions of people — not at the moment of losing their life — but in the course of living their life — are saying to themselves, “I can’t breathe.”
 
It’s a wake-up call for our nation. For all of us. And I mean all of us. It’s not the first time we’ve heard these words — they’re the same words we heard from Eric Garner when his life was taken six years ago.
 
But it’s time to listen to these words. Understand them. And respond to them — with real action.
 
The country is crying out for leadership. Leadership that can unite us. Leadership that can bring us  together. Leadership that can recognize the pain and deep grief of communities that have had a knee on their neck for too long.
 
But there is no place for violence.
 
No place for looting or destroying property or burning churches, or destroying businesses — many of them built by people of color who for the first time were beginning to realize their dreams and build wealth for their families.
 
Nor is it acceptable for our police — sworn to protect and serve all people — to escalate tensions or resort to excessive violence.
 
We need to distinguish between legitimate peaceful protest — and opportunistic violent destruction. And we must be vigilant about the violence that’s being done by the incumbent president to our democracy and to the pursuit of justice.
 
When peaceful protestors are dispersed by the order of the President from the doorstep of the people’s house, the White House — using tear gas and flash grenades — in order to stage a photo op at a noble church, we can be forgiven for believing that the president is more interested in power than in principle. More interested in serving the passions of his base than the needs of the people in his care.
 
For that’s what the presidency is: a duty of care — to all of us, not just our voters, not just our donors, but all of us.
 
The President held up a bible at St. John’s church yesterday. If he opened it instead of brandishing it, he could have learned something: That we are all called to love one another as we love ourselves.
 
That’s hard work. But it’s the work of America.
 
Donald Trump isn’t interested in doing that work. Instead he’s preening and sweeping away all the guardrails that have long protected our democracy. Guardrails that have helped make possible this nation’s path to a more perfect union.
 
A union that constantly requires reform and rededication — and yes the protests from voices of those mistreated, ignored, left out and left behind. But it’s a union worth fighting for and that’s why I’m running for President.
 
In addition to the Bible, he might also want to open the U.S. Constitution.
 
If he did, he’d find the First Amendment. It protects “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
 
Mr. President: That is America.
 
Not horses rising up on their hind legs to push back a peaceful protest. Not using the American military to move against the American people. This nation is a nation of values. Our freedom to speak is the cherished knowledge that lives inside every American.
 
We will not allow any President to quiet our voice.
 
We won’t let those who see this as an opportunity to sow chaos throw up a smokescreen to distract us from the very real and legitimate grievances at the heart of these protests. And we can’t leave this moment thinking we can once again turn away and do nothing. We can’t.
 
The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism. To deal with the growing economic inequality in our nation. And to deal with the denial of the promise of this nation — to so many.
 
I’ve said from the outset of this election that we are in a battle for the soul of this nation. Who we are. What we believe. And maybe most important — who we want to be.
 
It’s all at stake. That is truer today than ever. And it’s in this urgency we can find the path forward.
 
The history of this nation teaches us that it’s in some of our darkest moments of despair that we’ve made some of our greatest progress.
 
The 13th and 14th and 15th Amendments followed the Civil War. The greatest economy in the history of the world grew out of the Great Depression. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 came in the tracks of Bull Connor’s vicious dogs.
 
To paraphrase Reverend Barber — it’s in the mourning we find hope.
It will take more than talk. We’ve had talk before. We’ve had protests before.
Let us vow to make this, at last, an era of action to reverse systemic racism with long overdue and concrete changes.
 
That action will not be completed in the first 100 days of my Presidency — or even an entire term. It is the work of a generation.
 
But if this agenda will take time to complete, it should not wait for the first 100 days of my Presidency to get started. A down payment on what is long overdue should come now. Immediately.
 
I call on Congress to act this month on measures that would be a first step in this direction. Starting with real police reform. Congressman Jeffries has a bill to outlaw choke holds. Congress should put it on President Trump’s desk in the next few days.
 
There are other measures: to stop transferring weapons of war to police forces, to improve oversight and accountability, to create a model use of force standard — that also should be made law this month.
 
No more excuses. No more delays.
 
If the Senate has time to confirm Trump’s unqualified judicial nominees who will run roughshod over our Constitution, it has time to pass legislation that will give true meaning to our Constitution’s promise of “equal protection of the laws.”
 
Looking ahead, in the first 100 days of my presidency, I have committed to creating a national police oversight commission. I’ve long believed we need real community policing.
 
And we need each and every police department in the country to undertake a comprehensive review of their hiring, their training, and their de-escalation practices. And the federal government should give them the tools and resources they need to implement reforms.
 
Most cops meet the highest standards of their profession. All the more reason that bad cops should be dealt with severely and swiftly. We all need to take a hard look at the culture that allows for these senseless tragedies to keep happening.
 
And we need to learn from the cities and precincts that are getting it right. We know, though, that to have true justice in America, we need economic justice, too. Here, too, there is much to be done.
As an immediate step, Congress should act to rectify racial inequities in the allocation of COVID-19 recovery funds.
 
I will be setting forth more of my agenda on economic justice and opportunity in the weeks and months ahead.
 
But it begins with health care. It should be a right not a privilege. The quickest route to universal coverage in this country is to expand Obamacare.
 
We could do it. We should do it.
 
But this president — even now — in the midst of a public health crisis with massive unemployment wants to destroy it.
 
He doesn’t care how many millions of Americans will be hurt— because he is consumed with his blinding ego when it comes to President Obama.
 
The President should withdraw his lawsuit to strike down Obamacare, and the Congress should prepare to act on my proposal to expand Obamacare to millions more.
 
These last few months we have seen America’s true heroes. The health care workers, the nurses, delivery truck drivers, grocery store workers.
We have a new phrase for them: Essential workers.
 
But we need to do more than praise them. We need to pay them.
 
Because if it wasn’t clear before, it’s clear now. This country wasn’t built by Wall Street bankers and CEOs. It was built by America’s great middle class — by our essential workers.
 
I know there is enormous fear and uncertainty and anger in the country. I understand.
 
And I know so many Americans are suffering. Suffering the loss of a loved one. Suffering economic hardships. Suffering under the weight of generation after generation after generation of hurt inflicted on people of color — and on black and Native communities in particular.
 
I know what it means to grieve. My losses are not the same as the losses felt by so many. But I know what it is to feel like you cannot go on.
 
I know what it means to have a black hole of grief sucking at your chest.
 
Just a few days ago marked the fifth anniversary of my son Beau’s passing from cancer. There are still moments when the pain is so great it feels no different from the day he died. But I also know that the best way to bear loss and pain is to turn all that anger and anguish to purpose.
 
And, Americans know what our purpose is as a nation. It has guided us from the very beginning.
 
It’s been reported. That on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, little Yolanda King came home from school in Atlanta and jumped in her father’s arms.
 
“Oh, Daddy,” she said, “now we will never get our freedom.”
 
Her daddy was reassuring, strong, and brave.
 
“Now don’t you worry, baby,” said Martin Luther King, Jr. “It’s going to be all right.”
 
Amid violence and fear, Dr. King persevered.
He was driven by his dream of a nation where “justice runs down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
 
Then, in 1968 hate would cut him down in Memphis.
 
A few days before Dr. King was murdered, he gave a final Sunday sermon in Washington.
 
He told us that though the arc of a moral universe is long, it bends toward justice.
 
And we know we can bend it — because we have. We have to believe that still. That is our purpose. It’s been our purpose from the beginning.
To become the nation where all men and women are not only created equal — but treated equally.
 
To become the nation defined — in Dr. King’s words — not only by the absence of tension, but by the presence of justice.
 
Today in America it’s hard to keep faith that justice is at hand. I know that. You know that.
 
The pain is raw. The pain is real.
 
A president of the United States must be part of the solution, not the problem. But our president today is part of the problem.
 
When he tweeted the words “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” — those weren’t the words of a president. They were the words of a racist Miami police chief from the 1960s.
 
When he tweeted that protesters “would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs … that’s when people would have been really badly hurt.” Those weren’t the words of a president — those were the kind of words a Bull Connor would have used unleashing his dogs.
 
The American story is about action and reaction. That’s the way history works. We can’t be naïve about that.
 
I wish I could say this hate began with Donald Trump and will end with him. It didn’t and it won’t. American history isn’t a fairytale with a guaranteed happy ending.
The battle for the soul of this nation has been a constant push-and-pull for more than 240 years.
 
A tug of war between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart. The honest truth is both elements are part of the American character.
 
At our best, the American ideal wins out.
 
It’s never a rout. It’s always a fight. And the battle is never finally won.
 
But we can’t ignore the truth that we are at our best when we open our hearts, not when we clench our fists. Donald Trump has turned our country into a battlefield riven by old resentments and fresh fears.
 
He thinks division helps him.
 
His narcissism has become more important than the nation’s well-being he leads.
 
I ask every American to look at where we are now, and think anew: Is this who we are? Is this who we want to be? Is this what we pass on to our kids’ and grandkids’ lives? Fear and finger-pointing rather than hope and the pursuit of happiness? Incompetence and anxiety? Self-absorption and selfishness?
 
Or do we want to be the America we know we can be. The America we know in our hearts we could be and should be.
 
Look, the presidency is a big job. Nobody will get everything right. And I won’t either.
 
But I promise you this. I won’t traffic in fear and division. I won’t fan the flames of hate.
 
I will seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued this country — not use them for political gain.
 
I’ll do my job and take responsibility. I won’t blame others. I’ll never forget that the job isn’t about me.
 
It’s about you.
 
And I’ll work to not only rebuild this nation. But to build it better than it was.
 
To build a better future. That’s what America does.
 
We build the future. It may in fact be the most American thing to do.
 
We hunger for liberty the way Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass did.
 
We thirst for the vote the way Susan B. Anthony and Ella Baker and John Lewis did. We strive to explore the stars, to cure disease, to make this imperfect Union as perfect as we can.
 
We may come up short — but at our best we try.
 
We are facing formidable enemies.
 
They include not only the coronavirus and its terrible impact on our lives and livelihoods, but also the selfishness and fear that have loomed over our national life for the last three years.
 
Defeating those enemies requires us to do our duty — and that duty includes remembering who we should be.
We should be the America of FDR and Eisenhower, of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., of Jonas Salk and Neil Armstrong.
 
We should be the America that cherishes life and liberty and courage.
 
Above all, we should be the America that cherishes each other — each and every one.
 
We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us. We are a nation enraged, but we cannot allow our rage to consume us. We are a nation exhausted, but we will not allow our exhaustion to defeat us.
 
As President, it is my commitment to all of you to lead on these issues — to listen. Because I truly believe in my heart of hearts, that we can overcome. And when we stand together, finally, as One America, we will rise stronger than before.
 
So reach out to one another. Speak out for one another. And please, please take care of each other.
 
This is the United States of America. And there is nothing we can’t do. If we do it together.

 

Delivered in the Mayor’s Reception Room in Philadelphia City Hall, June 2, 2020.