As Americans marked their Independence Day Weekend, two sharply contrasting messages emerged from the two leading candidates running for President.
Incumbent Donald Trump, who spoke at two events to mark the Fourth of July celebrations, railed against what he called the radical left while condemning recent protests against monuments to historical figures as an attempt to destroy the country.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 5, 2020
His democratic rival Joe Biden, in an op-ed and video message, struck a different tone; one of inclusion and hope while focussing instead on the urgency for racial justice in the country.
Our nation was founded on a simple idea: We're all created equal. We've never lived up to it — but we've never stopped trying. This Independence Day, let's not just celebrate those words, let's commit to finally fulfill them. Happy #FourthOfJuly! pic.twitter.com/1WrATlx8Xl
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) July 4, 2020
With President Trump lagging in the polls, in most cases by double digits, while trailing his rival in a number of key swing-states, he portrayed those protesting against racial injustice and seeking redress as the nation’s enemies.
“Make no mistake, this left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution. In so doing, they would destroy the very civilization that rescued billions from poverty, disease, violence, and hunger. And that lifted humanity to new heights of achievement, discovery, and progress. To make this possible, they are determined to tear down every statue, symbol, and memory of our national heritage.”
Speaking at the foot of Mount Rushmore that honours four former Presidents and a day later at the White House, he vowed to safeguard the country’s values from leftists, looters, and agitators; providing a narrative of grievance and bellicosity reminiscent of a campaign rally rather than an Independence Day address.
“Thanks to the courage of those patriots on July 4th, 1776, the American Republic stands today as the greatest, most exceptional, and most virtuous nation in the history of the world. We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and people who in many instances have absolutely no clue what they are doing.”
But the protests that continue across the United States tell a different story, triggered by the brutal killing of George Floyd and other Black and Brown Americas at the hands of police and accompanied by a growing chorus for change that includes the removal of monuments to confederate leaders who fought again the union of the country in order to retain Black people as slaves.
While Trump embraced, what he called the country’s rich heritage and the American way of life, his rival Joe Biden framed Independence Day as a persistent march towards greater justice.
“America’s history is no fairy tale, it’s been a constant push and pull between the two parts of our character, the idea that all men and women, all people are born equal and racism has torn us apart. We have a chance now to give the marginalised, the demonised, the isolated, the oppressed, a full share of the American dream. We have a chance to rip the roots of systemic racism out of this country. We have a chance to live up to the words that founded this nation – this Independence Day let’s not just celebrate the words, let’s celebrate that promise, commit to work, the work we must do to fulfill that promise and remain locked in the battle for the soul of this nation.”
As President Trump’s approval numbers continue to plummet in light of his poor handling of the coronavirus pandemic and protests around the country, expect the rhetoric only to sharpen – along with the drama of Presidential politics, as rapper Kanye West announces that he too is running to be the next Commander-in-Chief as 2020 delivers yet another curveball.