Biden’s Appeal: Focus on the Basics

Spirited Speech Channels Vince Lombardi to Grab Attention of Americans

PITTSBURGH, Pa.  — Joe Biden picked this quintessential, football-loving, reborn blue collar American Rust Belt city to remind Americans of the federal government’s most fundamental task — to keep Americans safe.

Pittsburgh is a good choice, but not just because winning Pennsylvania is something Biden must do. It’s a football city. The Steelers have six trophies named for legendary NFL Coach Vince Lombardi. Lombardi was quite quotable, known for his to-the-point wisdom to get the best out of those he coached. Today, Biden channeled Lombardi as he worked to get Americans to focus on what is important.

What is perhaps Lombardi’s shortest quote was his most effective. Lombardi began the 1961 Green Bay Packer training camp by reminding the players, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” As one author noted, “Lombardi was coaching a group of three dozen professional athletes who, just months prior, had come within minutes of winning the biggest prize their sport could offer. And yet, he started from the very beginning.”

Lombardi realized that even these greatest of athletes had lost their focus. Vice President Biden knows what will happen to Americans if they fall for Trump’s deflections. They will lose their focus. They will take their eyes off the ball. Yes, the President of the United States wants the American people to lose focus on its long-held values.

Biden, as always, countered that by stating his abiding faith in the American people. He reminded Americans that it is not unreasonable to expect that an effective government is focused on preserving health, jobs, access to food, good schools, voting rights, and basic human decency — just to name a few. Essentially, he reminded us that our foundation is expressed in the traditional motto of the United States — E Pluribus Unum (“Out of many, one”).

He reminded Americans that Trump inherited a healthy economy and can’t blame today’s chaos on anyone but the guy he sees in the mirror. Biden rightly — and repeatedly — reminded Americans that Trump is “the incumbent president.” He is the problem troubling the United States.  

So, Biden understands that it is time to return to the basics. It’s a no-brainer really. President Trump is not only not up to the job, he is stoking the flames of White Nationalism, resurrecting a war that history books tell us ended in April 1865. Trump is also working — as always — to disenfranchise voters. This is his unforgivable assault upon our Republic; this is a right that has been entirely too slow in coming to all Americans, and our last check on tyranny.  Trump has ignored science; as a consequence, nearly 200,000 Americans have died because of his failed response to the Coronavirus. He has betrayed our allies and befriended enemy dictators that brutalize and kill their own people. He has ruined our moral standing in the world. He has divided the nation and pitted old friends against us. That is in stark contrast to “Out of many, one.” 

There is nobody to whom the buck can be passed. So, Trump has decided that he has to recast himself as the  “Law and Order” candidate. There’s only one problem. He’s the incumbent. So, it wasn’t hard for Biden to debunk that nonsense, saying, “[Trump] can’t stop the violence because for years he has fomented it.” 

Biden, like Lombardi, is offering us a simple reminder of what the problem is. We’ve forgotten the basics. Biden observed, “The simple truth is Donald Trump failed to protect America. So now he’s trying to scare America.”

We can’t let that happen. We must respond as Lombardi’s players did in 1961. Determinedly focused from the first day, they went on to win the NFL championship that season, despite a disappointing loss in the previous championship. We, too, must remain determinedly focused in protecting basic American truths. We must stand for free and fair elections and against this president that cavalierly stands aside to allow chaos and suffering to occur so that he will be re-elected.

We must declare, “Out of many, one!” Hence, it is imperative that we all vote. If we fail to do so this year, we may never get another chance.

© Michael M. Barrick, 2020. Be a Voter Photo by Dan Dennis on Unsplash; Football Photo by Dave Adamson on Unsplash