As President Trump continues his bumbling quest to denigrate the United States’ standing in the world, millions of Americans cast their hopeful eyes towards 2020 and wonder aloud which man or woman will be tasked with cleaning up this colossal mess when they are sworn in as the next president.
One name that keeps popping up as a possible contender is former Vice President Joe Biden. He hasn’t ruled out the possibility of jumping back into the political ring and is well liked by a large swath of Americans. Most importantly, he has the experience and intelligence to undo the damage that our current reality television leader has wrought.
Now, Biden has added fuel to the flames of presidential speculation by penning an op-ed for The New York Times in which he attacks Trump’s presidency from top to bottom. In it, he paints a picture not only of Donald’s incompetence, but also his immorality.
Biden writes that, despite its flaws and mistakes, the United States has always pushed for a better world, leading by example and advancing the best interests of foreign countries. America is always striving to achieve the perfection laid out by the Founding Fathers, values we have never quite reached but towards which we are constantly pushing.
“The constant American endeavor to live by our values is a great strength that has drawn generations of strivers and dreamers to the United States, enriching our population,” Biden writes. “Around the world, other nations follow our lead because they know that America does not simply protect its own interests, but tries to advance the aspirations of all.”
“This has stood as the foundation of American foreign policy throughout my political career — until recently.”
The “until recently” leaves no doubt about how Biden feels about the current administration, but in case it wasn’t clear enough for some readers he goes on to call Trump out by name.
“Around the world, including in the United States, we are seeing the resurgence of a worldview that is closed off and clannish. President Trump keeps longstanding allies such as Germany at arm’s length, while expressing admiration for autocrats like Vladimir V. Putin who thwart democratic institutions,” says Biden.
He continues on to succinctly summarize the problem with Trump’s worldview. He views international affairs as “zero-sum,” erroneously assuming that other nations must fail for the United States to succeed. In actuality, America is healthiest when she is helping other nations to lift themselves up, creating a stronger global economy and security, in turn pushing her to new heights.
Biden then turns his eye to Trump’s disastrous, nihilistic domestic policy, attacking his defense of the Neo-Nazis at Charlottesville and his announced repeal of DACA. He says that the values that define us at home are what make us so invaluable abroad. The American spirit must animate all our policies, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s the smart thing to do.
One particular segment stands out: “Not since the Jim Crow era has an American president so misunderstood and misrepresented our values.” It’s a terrifying statement, but given Trump’s flagrant racism and xenophobia, certainly not an unfair one.
He ends with a striking passage, defining what it means to be American:
“You cannot define Americans by what they look like, where they come from, whom they love or how they worship. Only our democratic values define us. And if we lose sight of this in our conduct at home or abroad, we jeopardize the respect that has made the United States the greatest nation on earth.”
At a time when our elected leadership is so bankrupt of ideas and morality, it’s reassuring to hear from those still keeping the flame alive. Regardless of whether or not Joe Biden ends up running for president, Americans are lucky to have him pushing the public discourse.
Rob Haffey is a writer, filmmaker, and winner of the ScreenCraft Writing Fellowship. He is a graduate of Drexel University.