President Biden speech to the American people about the soul of the nation (transcript) — 9/1/22

Note: This speech was transcribed and proofread by SpeakWrite professionals . As with all SpeakWrite transcripts, no AI was utilized to transcribe this speech.

[Please welcome the
President of the United States and Dr. Jill Biden.]


My fellow Americans, please, if you
have a seat, take it.  I speak to you
tonight from sacred ground in America, Independence Hall in Pennsylvania.  This is where America made its Declaration of
Independence to the world more than two centuries ago with an idea unique among
nations that in America we’re all created equal.  This is where the United States Constitution
was written and debated.  This is where
we set in motion the most extraordinary experiment of self government the world
has ever known with three simple words, we the people, we the people.  These two documents and the ideas they embody
of quality and democracy are the rock upon which this nation is built.  They are how we became the greatest nation on
earth.  They are why, for more than two
centuries, America has been a beacon to the world, but as I stand here tonight,
our quality and democracy are under assault. 


We do ourselves no favor to pretend
otherwise, so tonight, I’ve come to this place where it all began to speak as
plainly as I can to the nation about the threats we face, about the power we
have in our own hands to meet these threats, and about the incredible future
that lies in front of us if only we choose it.  We must never forget we the people are the
true heirs of the American experiment that began more than two centuries
ago.  We the people have burning inside
of each of us the flame of liberty that was lit here at Independence Hall, a
flame that lit our way through abolition, the Civil War, suffrage, the Great
Depression, world wars, civil rights. 
That sacred flame still burns now in our time as we build an America
that is more prosperous, free, and just. 
That is the work of my presidency, a mission I believe in with my whole
soul, but first, we must be honest with each other and with ourselves. 


Too much of what’s happening in our
country today is not normal.  Donald
Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very
foundations of our republic, and I want to be very clear, very clear up front,
not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans are MAGA
Republicans.  Not every Republican
embraces their extreme ideology.  I know because
I’ve been able to work with these mainstream Republicans, but there’s no
question that the Republican party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated
by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this


These are hard things, but I’m an
American president, not a president of red America or Blue America but of all
America, and I believe it’s my duty, my duty to level with you, to tell the
truth, no matter how difficult, no matter how painful, and here, in my view, is
what is true.  MAGA Republicans do not
respect the Constitution.  They do not
believe in the rule of law.  They do not
recognize the will of the people.  They
refuse to accept the results of a free election, and they’re working right now
as I speak in state after state to give power to decide elections in America to
partisans and cronies, empowering election deniers to undermine democracy
itself.  MAGA forces have determined to
take this country backwards, backwards to an America where there is no right to
choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who
you love.  They promote authoritarian
leaders, and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our
personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very
soul of this country.  They look at the
mob that stormed the United States Capitol on January 6 brutally attacking law
enforcement, not as insurrectionists who placed a dagger at the throat of our
democracy, but they look at it as patriots, and they see their MAGA failure to
stop a peaceful transfer of power after the 2020 election as preparation for
the 2022 and 2024 elections.  They tried
everything last time to nullify the votes of 81 million people.  This time, they’re determined to succeed in
thwarting the will of the people.  That’s
why respected conservatives like Federal Circuit Court Judge Michael Luttig has
called Trump and these extreme MAGA Republicans “clear and present danger
to our democracy,” but while the threat to American democracy is real, I
want to say as clearly as we can we are not powerless in the face of these


We are not bystanders in this
ongoing attack on democracy.  There are
far more Americans, far more Americans from every background and believe that
reject the extreme MAGA ideology than those that accept it, and folks, it’s
within our power, it’s in our hands, yours and mine, to stop the assault on
American democracy.  I believe America is
at an inflection point, one of those moments that determine the shape of everything
that’s to come after, and now, America must choose to move forward or to move
backwards, to build a future or obsess about the past, to be a nation of hope
and unity and optimism, or a nation of fear, division, and of darkness.  MAGA Republicans have made their choice.  They embrace anger.  They thrive on chaos.  They live not in the light of truth but in
the shadow of lies, but together, together, we can choose a different


We can choose a better path,
forward to the future, a future of possibility, a future to build and dream and
hope, and we’re on that path moving ahead. 
I know this nation.  I know you,
the American people.  I know your courage,
I know your hearts, and I know our history. 
This is a nation that honors our Constitution.  We do not reject it.  This is a nation that believes in the rule of
law.  We do not repudiate it.  This is a nation that respects free and fair
elections.  We honor the will of the
people.  We do not deny it, and this is a
nation that rejects violence as a political tool.  We do not encourage violence.  We are still an America that believes in
honesty and decency and respect for others, patriotism, liberty, justice for
all, hope, possibilities.  We are still,
at our core, a democracy, and yet, history tells us that blind loyalty to a
single leader and a willingness to engage in political violence is fatal to


For a long time, we told ourselves
that American democracy is guaranteed, but it’s not.  We have to defend it, protect it, stand up
for it, each and every one of us.  That’s
why tonight I’m asking our nation to come together, unite behind the single
purpose of defending our democracy regardless of your ideology.  We’re all called by duty and conscience to
confront extremists who put their own pursuit of power above all else.  Democrats, independents, mainstream
Republicans, we must be stronger, more determined, and more committed to saving
American democracy than MAGA Republicans are to destroying American


We the people will not let anyone
or anything tear us apart.  Today, there
are dangers around us we cannot allow to prevail.  We hear you’ve heard it, more and more talk
about violence as an acceptable political tool in this country.  It’s not. 
It can never be an acceptable tool, so I want to say this plain and
simple.  There is no place for political
violence in American period, none, ever. 
We saw law enforcement brutally attacked on January 6.  We’ve seen election officials, poll workers,
many of them volunteers of both parties, subject to intimidation and death
threats, and can you believe it, FBI agents just doing their job as directed
facing threats to their own lives from their own fellow citizens.  On top of that, there are public figures
today, yesterday, and the day before predicting and all but calling for mass
violence and rioting in the streets. 
This is inflammatory.  It’s
dangerous.  It’s against the rule of law,
and we the people must say this is not who we are. 


Ladies and gentlemen, we can’t be
pro-insurrections and pro-American. 
They’re incompatible.  We can’t
allow violence to be normalized in this country.  It’s wrong. 
We each have to reject political violence with all the moral clarity and
conviction this nation can muster now. 
We can’t let the integrity of our elections be undermined, for that is a
path to chaos.  Look, I know politicians
can be fierce and mean and nasty in America. 
I get it.  I believe in the give
and take of politics and disagreement and debate and dissent.  We’re a big, complicated country, but
democracy endures only if we the people respect the guardrails of the republic,
only if we the people accept the results of free and fair elections, only if we
the people see politics not as total war but mediation of our differences. 


Democracy cannot survive when one
side believes there are only two outcomes to an election, either they win or
they were cheated, and that’s where the MAGA Republicans are today.  They don’t understand what every patriotic
American knows.  You can’t love your
country only when you win.  It’s
fundamental.  American democracy only
works only if we choose to respect the rule of law and the institutions that
were set up in this chamber behind me, only if we respect our legitimate
political differences.  I will not stand
by and watch.  I will not the will of the
American people be overturned by wild conspiracy theories and baseless
evidence-free claims of fraud.  I will
not stand by and watch elections in this country stolen by people who simply
refuse to accept that they lost.  I will
not stand by and watch the most fundamental freedom in this country, the
freedom to vote and have your vote counted and be taken from you and the
American people. 


Look, as your president, I will
defend our democracy with every fiber in my being, and I’m asking every
American to join me.  Throughout our
history, America’s often made the greatest progress coming out of some of our
darkest moments like you’re hearing through that bullhorn.  I believe we can and must do that again, and
we are.  MAGA Republicans look at America
and see carnage and darkness and despair. 
They strike fear and lies, lies told for profit and power, but I see a
different America, an America with an unlimited future, an America that’s about
to take off.  I hope you see it as
well.  Just look around.  I believe we can lift America from the depths
of COVID, so we passed the largest economic recovery package since Franklin
Delano Roosevelt, and today, America’s economy is faster, stronger than any
other advanced nation in the world, but we have more to go.  I believe we can build a better America, so
we passed the biggest infrastructure investment since President Dwight D.
Eisenhower, and we’ve now embarked on a decade of rebuilding the nation’s
roads, bridges, highways, ports, water systems, high speed Internet, railroads.  I believe we can make America safer, so we
passed the most significant gun safety law since President Clinton.  I believe we can go from being the highest
cost of prescriptions in the world to making prescription drugs and health care
more affordable, so we passed the most significant healthcare reform since
President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, and I believe we could create a
clean energy future and save the planet, so we passed the most important
climate initiative ever, ever, ever.  The
cynics and the critics tell us nothing can get done, but they’re wrong.  There is not a single thing America cannot
do, not a single thing beyond our capacity if we do it together.  It’s never easy, but we’re proving that
America, no matter how long the road, progress does come. 


Look, I know the last few years
have been tough, but today COVID no longer controls our lives.  More Americans are working than ever.  Businesses are growing.  Our schools are open.  Millions of Americans have been lifted out of
poverty.  Millions of veterans once
exposed to toxic burn pits will now get what they deserve for their families
and their compensation.  American
manufacturers come alive across the heartland, and the future will be made in
America.  No matter what the white
supremacists and the extremists say, I made a bet on you, the American people,
and that bet is paying off, proving that from darkness, the darkness of
Charlottesville, of COVID, of gun violence, of insurrection ,we can see the
light.  Light is now visible.  Light that will guide us forward, not only in
words, but in actions, actions for you, for your children, for your
grandchildren, for America.  Even in this
moment with all the challenge that we face, I give you my word as a Biden. 


I’ve never been more optimistic
about America’s future, not because of me, but because of who you are.  We’re going to end cancer as we know it.  Mark my words.  We’re going to create millions of new jobs
and a clean energy economy.  We’re going
to think big.  We’re going to make the 21st
century another American century because the world needs us to.  That’s where we need to focus our energy, not
on the past, not on divisive culture wars, not on the politics of grievance,
but on a future we can build together. 
The MAGA Republicans believe that for them to succeed everyone else has
to fail.  They believe America is not
like I believe about America.  I believe
America is big enough for all of us to succeed, and that is the nation we’re
building, a nation where no one is left behind. 


I ran for president because I
believe we’re in a battle for the soul of this nation.  I still believe that to be true.  I believe the soul is the breath, the life,
and the essence of who we are.  The soul
is what makes us us.  The soul of America
is defined by the sacred proposition that all our created equal in the image of
God, that all are entitled to be treated with decency, dignity, and respect,
that all deserve justice and a shot at lives of prosperity and consequence, and
that democracy, democracy must be defended for democracy makes all these things
possible.  Folks, and it’s up to us. 


Democracy begins and will be
preserved in we the people’s habits of the heart, in our character, optimism
that is tested yet endures, courage that digs deep when we need it, empathy
that fuels democracy, the willingness to see each other, not as enemies but as
fellow Americans.  Look, our democracy
isn’t perfect.  It always has been, not
withstanding those folks you hear on the other side there.  They’re entitled to be outrageous.  This is a democracy, but history and common
sense, good manners is nothing they’ve ever suffered from, but history and
common sense tell us an opportunity, liberty, and justice for all are most
likely to come to pass in a democracy. 


We have never fully realized the
aspirations of our founding, but every generation has opened those doors a
little bit wider to include more people that have been excluded before.  My fellow Americans, America is an idea, the
most powerful idea in the history of the world, and it beats in the hearts of
the people of this country.  It beats in
all our hearts.  It unites America.  It is the American creed, the idea that
America guarantees that everyone be treated with dignity.  It gives hate no safe harbor.  It installs in everyone the belief that no
matter where you start in life there’s nothing you can’t achieve.  That’s who we are.  That’s what we stand for.  That’s what we believe, and that’s precisely
what we’re doing, opening doors, creating possibilities, focusing on the
future, and we’re only just beginning. 


Our task is to make our nation free
and fair, just and strong, noble and whole, and this work is the work of
democracy, the work of this generation. 
It is the work of our time for all time. 
We can’t afford to leave anyone on the sidelines.  We need everyone to do their park, so speak
up, speak out, get engaged, vote, vote, vote, and if we do our duty, if we do
our duty, in 2022 and beyond, then ages still to come will say we, all of us
here, we kept the faith.  We preserved
democracy.  We heeded not our worst
instincts but our better angels.  We
proved that for all its imperfections America is still the beacon to the world,
an ideal to be realized, a promise to be kept. 
There’s nothing more important, nothing more sacred, nothing more
American.  That’s our soul.  That’s who we truly are, and that’s who we
must always be. 


I have no doubt, none, that this is
who we will be and that we’ll come together as a nation that will secure our
democracy that for the next 200 years we’ll have what we had the past 200
years, the greatest nation on the face of the earth.  We just need to remember who we are.  We are the United States of America, the
United States of America, and may God protect our nation and may God protect
all those who stand and watch over our democracy.  God bless you all.  Democracy. 
Thank you.


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