In a recent interview with ProPublica, veteran White House correspondent John Harwood asked President Joe Biden for advice on how Americans can engage in conversations with family or friends who support former President Donald Trump and discuss American values like democracy. The discussion revolved around Biden’s call for engagement and protecting democracy.
Harwood, referring to Biden’s speech on democracy, inquired how people should approach “a MAGA parent, neighbor, coworker” if they are hesitant about initiating such a potentially challenging conversation. Biden responded by emphasizing the importance of voting, underscoring that he never thought he would see a time when people fear physical violence for voting contrary to popular sentiment, akin to a mobster case.
Harwood acknowledged that many individuals find these conversations difficult and may be reluctant to engage. Biden advised those who are hesitant to act according to their convictions and not be afraid to engage in conversations. He encouraged people to reach out to others, initiate conversations, and promote a two-way dialogue, avoiding arguments while sharing their perspectives and listening to others’ viewpoints.
While acknowledging the difficulties in these discussions, Biden expressed his belief that the majority of Americans are decent, honorable, and straightforward individuals. He stressed the importance of making people understand the dangers of not participating in democracy and encouraged active civic engagement by saying, “show up, show up, show up.”
In essence, President Biden’s advice centers on the idea that people should not shy away from difficult conversations about democracy and American values, but rather engage in respectful and constructive dialogue to bridge political divides and strengthen the democratic process through active participation.
JOHN HARWOOD: You said in your speech yesterday you want average Americans who share your concerns to engage, to stand up for American values. How would you advise those people who do share your concerns but may be wary about talking to a MAGA parent, neighbor, coworker? How would you advise them to do that?
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Vote. Vote. Look, I was saying to my staff. I never thought I’d see a time when someone was worried about being on a jury because there may be physical violence against them if they voted the wrong way. I never thought I’d. I never thought that would happen. It’s like a maybe a mobster case. I. I mean, think about that.
JOHN HARWOOD: But a lot of average people think those are really difficult conversations to have with people and will be reluctant to.
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Well, they are. And I think if you don’t want to engage, you just act. You just do what you think is right. And part of that is just showing up, showing up. But I also think that we should be engaging people more and and not not be worried about our neighbor. Talk to them, sit down and say, what do you think? Well, and not get in arguments, but say, this is what, you say this. But how about this? Force people to get in a two way conversation. But it’s hard John. But the biggest thing is, look, I really do believe that the vast majority of the American people are decent, honorable, straight forward. I mean, I think it’s a minority minority. And I think they have to, though, understand, one, what danger is if they don’t participate? And two: show up. Show up. Show up.