When Joe Biden announced his candidacy for President in April 2019, he talked about the events at Charlottesville, Va. in August 2017:
We saw Klansmen and white supremacists and neo-Nazis come out in the open, their crazed faces illuminated by torches, veins bulging, and bearing the fangs of racism. Chanting the same anti-Semitic bile heard across Europe in the ‘30s. And they were met by a courageous group of Americans, and a violent clash ensued and a brave young woman lost her life.
He then described his horror to hear then-President Donald Trump state that there were “some very fine people on both sides.”
In that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I had ever seen in my lifetime.
Biden said we were in a "battle for the soul of this nation." He was right then. And the threat has only intensified. The battle is raging more intensely than ever.
"A genuinely good man"
Politics is a tough business to be in—a world of dealmaking, dark money, dirty-tricks and, increasingly, disinformation. It would be a miracle for a true saint to rise to the top. But Biden is, as Mitt Romney said in 2022, "a genuinely good man."
He's also a Catholic (America's second Catholic President, after JFK). And Biden's Christianity, as with many Catholics around the world, is a New Testament-based religion of love, tolerance and forgiveness. His Jesus didn't ride a dinosaur or carry a gun. He believed in supporting the downtrodden—and not casting the first stone.
Biden, born less than a year after the attack on Pearl Harbor, is now 80. If you look at his long record, you can find plenty that can be quibbled with by the progressive standards of today.
As NPR wrote in 2020: "He has endured long enough that he is still on the stage to see the long-term results of his actions, and sometimes to receive the judgment of history."
But believing as he does in a benevolent God, Biden is still willing to learn and rethink his positions.
He endorsed gay marriage in 2012, supposedly forcing Obama's hand on the issue.
He's done more than any President in history to address the existential threat of climate change.
And he's earned—and tapped into—deep support from Black voters (and Rep. Jim Clyburn).
When he accepted Obama's offer in 2008, perceptions of Biden changed.
His friend Bebe Coker, the NAACP activist in Wilmington, says she was moved by his decision because "I've never known any white male that would take second place to a Black man."
Black voters have voiced similar appreciation ever since. "Biden's loyalty to the country's first Black president," reported NPR's Asma Khalid from the 2020 South Carolina primary, was why older Black voters showed "such a willingness to forgive and defend him."
In 2020, it was that appreciation from Black voters that resurrected his campaign during the primaries and helped complete his ascension to the White House.
"Our better angels have always prevailed"
While some might dismiss en masse the brainwashed bigots of the Dark MAGA movement, Biden remains willing to offer each of these lost souls a path back to sanity and redemption.
All they have to do is open their hearts.
As he said in his inaugural address.
I ask every American to join me in this cause. Uniting to fight the common foes we face: anger, resentment, hatred. Extremism, lawlessness, violence. Disease, joblessness, hopelessness.
Unlike the people Biden's fighting in this "battle for the soul of this nation," his call to arms is less about actual fighting and more about being nice.
To Biden, "anger, resentment and hatred" are not just our common foes. They're also things we can fix within ourselves if we want to.
"Our better angels have always prevailed," he said. Which is his polite way of telling Trump supporters to stop being assholes.
There's no question that electing Joe Biden—and Kamala Harris—for a second term is essential if America wants to protect the rights and safety of women, minorities, students, and the LGBTQ+ community from the thuggish forces of ignorance, intolerance and white supremacy.
"The conscience of the nation"
We may not expect to find saints in the world of politics. But if we had to choose one, it would likely be Jimmy Carter who, perhaps more than any other major American figure, embodies what true Christianity looks like.
As President, he brokered a historic peace agreement between Egypt and Israel— and tried to break America's dependence on foreign oil by installing solar panels on the White House (only to see Reagan rip them out).
Well into his 90s, he continued to help build houses for Habitat for Humanity.
As one well-wisher posted on his 97th birthday in 2021:
You are a true hero, speaking truth to power, and standing up for human rights everywhere. You and your dear wife Rosalyn are the conscience of the nation... wholeheartedly serving humanity through your examples.
These days, at a time when religious extremism—in the form of so-called "Christian" nationalism—is fueling the anger, resentment and hatred of millions of Americans, we could use the influence of Jimmy Carter more than ever.
Unfortunately, Carter, 98, and his wife Rosalynn, 96, are entering their "final chapter" together in hospice care at their modest Plains, Georgia ranch house.
"Born again" but still Christian
I would like to hope that the last days of Jimmy Carter would prompt more conversations about his—and Biden's—form of Christianity.
Carter proved that being "Born Again" wasn't an excuse to abandon the teachings of Jesus Christ and embrace "false prophets" and other con artists who only feed off—and fundraise off—the "anger, resentment and hatred" they stir up.
Today's Republican "Christians" are dedicated to division—and determined to distract from any true discussion about what Jesus would want them to do to solve the actual problems of the 21st Century.
And when it comes to the biggest challenge of all—preserving God's creation from man-made climate change? They continue to reject both science and God's instructions.
These days if you ask a Republican to do something Jesus would do, they'll call you a socialist.
These fascist-friendly hypocrites are waging a war against not only US democracy, but also against the loving, tolerant Jesus that Democrats like Joe Biden and Jimmy Carter believe in.
They've become the very kind of people Jesus warned us against.
That's why the battle for America's soul is one that Democrats—and true Christians everywhere—cannot afford to lose.
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