Biden’s Appeal to Black Voters Needs an Overhaul

Let’s start here: A second Donald Trump presidency is a disaster scenario.

And if, in 2024, Joe Biden is the only thing standing between Trump and the White House, then Biden’s success may well be the last hope for the country as we know it. In that case — the most likely one at this point — America needs Biden to succeed. That’s why it’s so distressing when he comes up short in his appeals to the voters he’ll need to win re-election.

This week, Biden delivered a speech at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C. — Mother Emanuel — a historic Black church that was the site of a massacre, carried out by a white supremacist, in 2015.

It was one of Biden’s attempts to reach out to Black voters, a constituency from which he desperately needs enthusiastic support but that is going soft on him and, polls have shown, a part of which may even be drifting to Trump.

The president’s speech was a chance to offer a vision for his second term, but there was hardly any vision in it. It focused on what his administration has done and not what it will do. It landed like someone coming to collect a payment for services rendered rather than to celebrate victories with a partner before mapping out future plans.

This stands in contrast to Trump, who is offering a vision for America, albeit the darkest, bleakest vision imaginable. Part of that contrast may be the nature of the relationship of challengers — change agents — to incumbents, continuity proponents.

But Biden needs to find a better balance.

In a speech two weeks after he was sworn in, Biden said: “Racial equity will not just be an issue for one department in our administration. It has to be the business of the whole of government in all our federal policies and institutions.”

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