Joe Biden stood over the Gettysburg battlefield on Tuesday afternoon, using its history to point to the “cost of division” and how much America has suffered when it was truly divided.
“We must come together as a nation,” he urged, calling for Americans to embrace unity and to reach across the aisle.
The setting of the speech was quickly addressed in his remarks:
On July 4th, 1863, American woke to the remains of perhaps the most consequential battle in American soil. It took place here on this ground in Gettysburg; three days of violence, three days of carnage, 50,000 casualties, wounded, captured, missing, or dead, over three days of fighting. When the sun rose on that Independence Day, Lee would retreat. The war would go on for nearly two more years, but the back of the Confederacy had been broken. The Union would be saved. Slavery would be abolished, government of by and for the people would not perish from the earth, and freedom would be born anew in our land.
It was former President Abraham Lincoln’s “rescue, redemption, and rededication of the union” that preserved the country, something Biden said he would bring to the White House.
“Today, once again, we are a house divided, but that my friends can no longer be,” he said. “We’re facing too many crises. We have too much work to do. We have to bright a future to have it shipwrecked on the Shoals of anger and hate, and division.”
“As we stand here today, a century and a half later after Gettysburg, we should consider again, what can happen when equal justice is denied, when anger and violence and division are left unchecked. As I look across America today, I’m concerned,” he continued. “The country is in a dangerous place. Our trust in each other is ebbing. Hope seems elusive. Too many Americans see our public life, not as an arena for mediation of our differences, but rather they see it as an occasion for total, unrelenting, partisan warfare.”
Biden then called for people to put their differences asides peacefully and to reasonably disagree:
Instead of treating each other’s party as the opposition, we treat them as the enemy. This must end. We need to revive the spirit of bipartisanship in this country. A spirit of being able to work with one another. When I say that, and I’ve been saying it for two years now, I’m accused of being naive. I’m told, “Maybe that’s the way things used to work, Joe, but they can’t work that way anymore.” Well, I’m here to tell you they can, and they must if we’re going to get anything done.
I’m running as a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president. I’ll work with Democrats and Republicans. I’ll work as hard for those who don’t support me, as those who do. That’s the job of a president; the duty to care for everyone. It was a lot of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another is not due to some mysterious force beyond our control. It’s a decision. It’s a choice we make.
“We can decide not to cooperate, we can decide to cooperate as well. That’s the choice I’ll make as president,” Biden said.
Watch his speech below (a transcript is available here to follow along):