Former Vice President Joe Biden argued that Donald Trump’s presidency is helping to deteriorate “America’s moral leadership” in an op-ed for The New York Times published Thursday.
Biden called the Trump administration’s us-versus-them rhetoric “disturbing,” and said Trump’s “shameful defense” of white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month “further abnegated America’s moral leadership.”
“Not since the Jim Crow era has an American president so misunderstood and misrepresented our values,” Biden wrote.
Biden then attacked the Trump administration’s recent decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, saying punishing the DREAMers “betrays an unnecessary cruelty that further undermines America’s standing in the world.”
“When Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said that it was important to ‘understand the difference between policy and values,’ he wrote off the very thing that makes the United States exceptional,” Biden added. What makes the U.S. exceptional, he argued, is “the belief that every man, woman and child has equal rights to freedom and dignity.”
He said the U.S. “should be the first to model” the values of “inclusivity, tolerance, diversity, respect for the rule of law, freedom of speech, freedom of the press” if that is what we hope to see around the world, and the time is now to “reclaim” those values.
“Without the United States standing as a bulwark for global democracy, illiberal powers like Russia will take increasingly aggressive steps to disrupt the international order, bully their neighbors and return to a more divided world,” Biden wrote.
“You cannot define Americans by what they look like, where they come from, whom they love or how they worship,” concluded the former vice president. “Only our democratic values define us. And if we lose sight of this in our conduct at home or abroad, we jeopardize the respect that has made the United States the greatest nation on earth.”
This is the second op-ed by the former Delaware senator in recent weeks. In August, he published an essay in The Atlantic condemning Trump’s response to the violent, hate-fueled attacks in Charlottesville and urging Americans to “do what President Trump has not.”
“If it wasn’t clear before, it’s clear now: We are living through a battle for the soul of this nation,” Biden wrote in that essay, an idea he expanded on in his piece for The New York Times.