Donald Trump wrecked America's relationship with the rest of the world. Joe Biden's DNC speech is a chance to start the healing process.
- Joe Biden's speech at the Democratic National Convention needs to not only reach out to Americans, but also start the healing process with the rest of the world.
- President Trump has wrecked relationships and diminished America's standing on the world stage, Biden has the chance to turn that around if he wins.
- Brett Bruen was the director of global engagement in the Obama White House and a career American diplomat. He runs the crisis-communications agency Global Situation Room.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Joe Biden will be speaking to a lot of different audiences when he accepts the nomination on Thursday at the Democratic National Convention. One of the most important will be those not voting in this year's election.
The speech will be the first time that many people in countries outside of the US will hear directly from Biden at length. They will be looking for signs of reassurance that he can in fact, steadily guide the United States out of these troubled, turbulent times.
A (re)introduction to the world
While the DNC is virtual this year, we can expect even more people than usual to tune in to hear what Biden has to say. This particularly true for those outside the US, for whom the former Vice President remains a relatively unknown figure.
Sure, Biden has spent decades on the American political scene. His name recognition in the US is certainly amongst the highest of any current politician. That doesn't hold true overseas, where his role in the last administration was largely overshadowed by the rock star status of his boss. While he claims to be on a first name basis with numerous world leaders, their citizens are much less familiar with Joe Biden.
Normally, as the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee, he would have dominated global headlines over the past few months. Yet, the COVID-19 crisis, Black Lives Matter protests, and major economic downturn have diminished the traditional coverage of his campaign. In some ways, he has also seemed content to sit out news cycles and let President Trump talk his way into one blunder after another. But, now it's time for prime time.
The globe will get its first good look when he takes the (virtual) stage in Milwaukee/Delaware. What kind of vision will he offer? Is it going to harken back to Obama's message of hope and change? Are we going to see a more modest agenda that reflects the considerable crises and challenges we currently confront?
While America is rightly focused on the health, social, and economic crises at home, based on Biden's biography, it would follow that his remarks spend substantive time on foreign affairs.
Biden would bring more foreign experience than any president since Eisenhower. He was given significant responsibilities in the Obama Administration for managing important international initiatives. His time in the Senate included two stints as Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Biden wants the world to hear that they can trust the US again how his administration commits to no longer embarrassing our country on a global stage.
When it comes to the citizens of the country the former VP's task is to convince a majority of Americans that he, as Obama did, can once again make them proud to show their passport.
There are obviously concerns. Biden's responses to a number of questions in the primary debates were less than sharp and far from stellar. He has always been prone on occasion, to placing the proverbial foot in his mouth. A poor performance could be deeply damaging to his candidacy and give Trump an opening. It would also have an impact on his international influence, even if he was elected.
In other ways, Biden's liabilities are a real asset against Trump. He speaks more approachably and authentically than most politicians, including Trump's first opponent — Hillary Clinton. Even his misstatements can help him to connect with voters who find the current President's unrefined style to be refreshing.
Foreign officials and their citizens will get a good sense of the agenda that awaits them, should Donald Trump go down to defeat in November. There will be many looking to see a strong performance that is fitting of a new leader for the West.
The leaders of other countries are also watching out that Biden does not tack too far left, embracing some of the populist, protectionist ideas of the progressive movement.
Mostly, the world just wants to start getting a sense that America can find its way forward, from the dark days of walls, bans, and willful destruction of international institutions.
This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author(s).
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