“America was an idea.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted that statement Wednesday evening, describing the country he wishes to lead — in the past tense.
The full text of the tweet reads: “America was an idea. We’ve never lived up to it but we’ve never walked away from it before.”
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 22, 2020
Biden included a link to a podcast interview with Brené Brown, and an audio clip in which he repeated the same message — “America was an idea”:
America was an idea, an idea. “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” We’ve never lived up to it, but we’ve never walked away from it before, and I just think we have to be more honest. Let our kids know, as we raise them, what actually did happen. Acknowledge our mistakes, so we don’t repeat them.
Biden’s words were a re-hash of his stump speech — with some important modifications.
For two years, Biden has cited the Declaration of Independence on the campaign trail, arguing that while ours has never been a truly equal society, we have never given up trying to make it so.
In his campaign launch video, for example, Biden said:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” We’ve heard it so often, it’s almost a cliché. But it’s who we are. We haven’t always lived up to these ideals; Jefferson himself didn’t. But we have never before walked away from them.
Biden has sometimes added “men and women” to the text of the Declaration, and has occasionally forgotten it altogether (“you know, you know the thing“).
But what is new in Biden’s tweet is his emphasis on America’s mistakes — echoing his recent refrains about “systemic racism,” apparently an attempt to identify with the left-wing protests of the last several months.
President Donald Trump has sought to draw a contrast with Biden on this point, adding a line to his recent speeches: “The Democrat party is ashamed of America. The Republican party is proud of America, and that’s a big difference.”