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Joe Biden Kicks off UB’s 32nd Annual Distinguished Speakers Series

By Elise Yu

A sold-out arena anxiously waits for the guest speaker. Spectators turn on their phones to record the moment the speaker will arrive. When he does, the crowd goes wild.

This may seem like the beginning to a highly anticipated concert. However, it actually marked the arrival of former Vice President Joe Biden to the University at Buffalo.

Former Vice President Joe Biden came to the University at Buffalo on October 25, 2018. While he was there, he focused the discussion on the political divide of the country and ways both politicians and civilians can remedy the divide.

Biden’s appearance at UB was the same day as the reported pipe bomb that was sent to Biden’s house.

Mr. Biden said that the pipe bombs were a consequence of the breakdown of our political system. “Folks, we don’t have all the facts yet…[but this] might wake everybody in my business,” Biden said. He continued, “This division, this hatred. It has to end. Words matter.”

“I have never looked at a political opponent as an enemy,” Biden noted. “We’re Americans before we are democrats or republicans.”

The former Vice President then voiced his disagreement with the current administration. “The press is not the enemy of the people. Immigrants are not animals.”

Biden asserted that the political divide in this country has spun out of control. There is “a rise of two strains” that have taken the country and split it in two. One is “half-baked nationalism” and the other is “phony populism.”

Biden continued by telling the audience that we as Americans must re-weave values like decency and honesty into the moral fabric of our society. In addition, Biden claimed that America must set an example to the rest of the world how democracy must be maintained in order to thrive as a country; we must send a message abroad and expose why severe division in a country is detrimental.

“We are the most unique nation in he world,” Biden declared. “We’ve got to get back and remember who in God’s name we are.”

Biden called on politicians to listen to all of the American people, especially the middle and working class. The American middle class, Biden said, is no longer the wealthiest middle class.

“It’s not a number. It’s a value set.” We can revive the middle class by investing more in things like affordable continued education, infrastructure, and health care.

“We should all be held accountable,” Biden said. In order for America to prosper at its maximum capacity, political parties must come back together. Understanding other people, regardless of whether it is a friend or a foe, is essential in healing the wounds from our political divide. “When you get to know somebody, it’s hard to dislike them.”

The root of our political divide comes from both parties. “The erosion began to take place before Trump…This is not your grandfather’s republican party. This is a whole new deal.” Biden argued that people from both sides of the aisle have been feeding off of fear. Both sides are guilty. In order to remedy this problem, Biden says that Americans must choose hope over fear.

Biden called on the students at UB and told them how they can change the direction of our country. The first thing students can do is to start on a personal level: you should be willing to reach out and get to know people with whom you disagree.

Second, we must “try to understand what people are dealing with.” This ties back into the idea of knowing people on a personal basis before you try to show disapproval towards them.

Third, Biden emphasizes the importance of treating everybody with respect. “Be less judgmental,” Biden said. “We’ll be more civil. We’ll be more decent. We’ll be more open.”

When closing his appearance, Mr. Biden told the crowd, “When the rest of the world does well, we do better…Most of all, don’t underestimate what you can do.”

 

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