Former Vice President Biden took shots at President Trump’s administration and policies while addressing thousands of graduates, family members, and well-wishers at Cornell University’s Convocation ceremony on Saturday.
He noted that the seed of fear and anxiety have been planted, and this has led to great uncertainty and hopelessness among the populace.
Some communities, he declared, are “struggling to get by and they are worried that they may not be able to keep up,” given the many changes that are taking place.
He said last year’s election “churned up some of the ugliest realities” in the country.
“I thought we had passed the days where it was acceptable for political leaders at local and national levels to bestow legitimacy on hate speech and fringe ideologies,” he said. He drew applause when he predicted: “This is a temporary state of affairs. The American people will not sustain this attitude for long, I promise you.”
He also cited the appeal of new political populism seen recently in the U.S., and around the world and the impact it has had.
“There are a lot of folks out there who are both afraid and susceptible to this kind of negative appeal. We saw the forces of populism not only here but around the world call to close our nation’s gates against the challenges of a rapidly changing world,” he said.
The former Vice President berated the policies and talking points of Trump’s administration on LGBT rights and immigration.
“The immigrant, the minority, the transgender, anyone not like me became a scapegoat,” Biden said. “Just build a wall, keep Muslims from coming into the United States.”
Furthermore, he labeled recent anti-immigrant sentiment seen in the U.S. as a “scapegoat” for individuals unable to find work in the U.S.
“They’re the reason I can’t compete, that’s why I don’t have a job. That’s why I worry about my safety,” he said.
“And I imagine, like me, many of you have seen this unfold. (It) was incredibly disorienting and disheartening.”
He noted further that what obtains now in terms of rhetoric and political practice is a temporary state of affairs as the American people will not sustain this attitude for long.
He said getting back to the basic of treating each other with dignity and respect was not only important but is part of the core value of the American constitution.
Additionally, he explained that people were not looking for handouts but expect their government to understand their problem.
He further stated that governing by consensus was paramount in making a meaningful difference in the way people are governed.
He implored graduates to become engaged in public affairs as they were not only fully equipped in this era of modern technology but also best positioned to do so.
Yvad Billings, Readers Bureau, Fellow
Edited by Jesus Chan
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