Trump vs Biden on the Protests
The contrast could not be more clear.
The sitting President of the United States and the man who would replace him are taking opposite approaches to the crisis.
One can read Trump’s tweets and statements on the issue for themselves but Peter Baker does a fine job of summarizing them (“In Days of Discord, a President Fans the Flames“):
With a nation on edge, ravaged by disease, hammered by economic collapse, divided over lockdowns and even face masks and now convulsed once again by race, President Trump’s first instinct has been to look for someone to fight.
Over the last week, America reeled from 100,000 pandemic deaths, 40 million people out of work and cities in flames over a brutal police killing of a subdued black man. But Mr. Trump was on the attack against China, the World Health Organization, Big Tech, former President Barack Obama, a cable television host and the mayor of a riot-torn city.
While other presidents seek to cool the situation in tinderbox moments like this, Mr. Trump plays with matches. He roars into any melee he finds, encouraging street uprisings against public health measures advanced by his own government, hurling made-up murder charges against a critic, accusing his predecessor of unspecified crimes, vowing to crack down on a social media company that angered him and then seemingly threatening to meet violence with violence in Minneapolis.
As several cities erupted in street protests after the killing of George Floyd, some of them resulting in clashes with the police, Mr. Trump made no appeal for calm. Instead in a series of tweets and comments to reporters on Saturday, he blamed the unrest on Democrats, called on “Liberal Governors and Mayors” to get “MUCH tougher” on the crowds, threatened to intervene with “the unlimited power of our Military” and even suggested his own supporters mount a counterdemonstration.
To say that this is irresponsible would be an understatement.
The former Vice President and presumptive Democratic nominee has taken a decidedly different tack, posting this on Medium* (“We are a nation furious at injustice.”):
These last few days have laid bare that we are a nation furious at injustice. Every person of conscience can understand the rawness of the trauma people of color experience in this country, from the daily indignities to the extreme violence, like the horrific killing of George Floyd.
Protesting such brutality is right and necessary. It’s an utterly American response. But burning down communities and needless destruction is not. Violence that endangers lives is not. Violence that guts and shutters businesses that serve the community is not.
The act of protesting should never be allowed to overshadow the reason we protest. It should not drive people away from the just cause that protest is meant to advance.
I know that there are people all across this country who are suffering tonight. Suffering the loss of a loved one to intolerable circumstances, like the Floyd family, or to the virus that is still gripping our nation. Suffering economic hardships, whether due to COVID-19 or entrenched inequalities in our system. And I know that a grief that dark and deep may at times feel too heavy to bear.
And I also know that the only way to bear it is to turn all that anguish to purpose. So tonight, I ask all of America to join me — not in denying our pain or covering it over — but using it to compel our nation across this turbulent threshold into the next phase of progress, inclusion, and opportunity for our great democracy.
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, I will help lead this conversation — and more importantly, I will listen. I will keep the commitment I made to George’s brother, Philonise, that George will not just be a hashtag. We must and will get to a place where everyone, regardless of race, believes that “to protect and serve” means to protect and serve them. Only by standing together will we rise stronger than before. More equal, more just, more hopeful — and that much closer to our more perfect union.
Please stay safe. Please take care of each other.
Which seems more presidential?
*I don’t understand why someone with a war chest of millions of dollars is posting messages on third-party websites but it seems a popular choice, particularly for Democratic candidates.