In his address to the nation, President Biden showed the essence of his moral integrity, political saavy, and respect for American democracy. There were moments during the speech when both Republicans and Democrats stood and applauded Biden’s strong support of Ukraine and his resolve to fight for democracy over autocracy. The parties also united around Biden’s extensive sanctioning against Putin, his oligarchs, and the Russian economy. He wisely kept away from talking about Trump and his autocratic assault on our democracy. He avoided any attack on the Republican Party’s enabling of the “big lie”, voter supression, and the emboldening of white supremacist groups. Instead, he talked about how strong America is when we work together as United Americans, not divided adversaries.
Despite the Republican Party’s move towards an authoritarian, one-party system of government, some unity was apparent within the Senate chamber during Biden’s address. Both parties displayed blue and yellow flags and pins supporting Ukraine and Biden’s punishing response to Putin’s war crimes. The applause was observed by some of Biden’s most ardent political enemies, like Senator Ted Cruz. In an attempt to create even more unity between the parties, Biden introduced what he called the four-point ” Unity Agenda”; beating the opioid epidemic, taking on mental health, supporting veterans, and ending “cancer as we know it” ( NPR, March 2, 2022). Contrary to Republican officials who talk only about issues they believe will get them votes from their 2nd Amendment-loving, abortion-opposing, anti-minority base, Biden spoke about the humanistic matters of health and quality of life. Although Republicans never run for office on humanistic issues, it would create a bad public image for them to oppose Biden’s plea for prioritizing these topics. Biden, contrary to Trump’s inability to value unity between our political parties, Biden tries to find areas where shared morality and values supersede political opportunism.
Biden also touted his successes during the first year of his administration such as the progress being made in controlling the pandemic, the passing of the American Rescue Plan, The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, and the record-breaking creation of 6.5 million new jobs. He acknowledged the growing inflation rate and explained how the supply and demand problem was created by the pandemic causing the drastic rise in prices. He made clear that lowering the cost of goods and services was a top priority for his administration.
The biggest takeaway from this State of the Union speech may be that a man is now leading the United States who defends and respects democracy, not authoritarianism, supports the individual rights and freedoms of all Americans no matter their religion, color, gender, or economic status, and strives to be a united, not divided America. The takeover of the Republican party by a right-wing extremist ideology is a threat to American democracy. Putin is using military force to take down democracy in Ukraine, and the MAGA scam movement is attempting to take down democracy here in America with disinformation and fear-mongering. Less blood is shed in the latter approach to destroying democracy. However, it is just as cruel, dangerous, and evil. President Joe Biden is the opposite of Putin and Trump.