Imagining America – A Fictional Presidential Speech in the Wake of the May 2020 Events

I was asked in a political Facebook Group what I would do if I were President to address/stop the riots. Here was my response.

My fellow Americans,

I am watching with shock, horror, and sadness the events unfolding here in Washington and across the nation. I know our people are tired, and enraged. I am calling for an end to all violence. But I will not speak of violence without speaking of the conditions that have led to that violence.

We have denied our own history, our own errors, so long, that we can’t even see simple truth anymore. This warrants our shame, our reflection, and our repentance. Let me say to you unequivocally: Black Lives Matter, because all lives matter. No one needs to be reminded of the second half, but too often, our individual, corporate, and governmental actions deny the first.

A number of policy advocates have called for sensible police reform so that the police in our cities act as servant leaders and protectors rather than soldiers fighting an enemy. That is why today I am calling on the Attorney General to convene a task force with the head of the FBI, selected police chiefs from small and large jurisdictions across the country, and activists such as the creators of Campaign Zero, to institute a set of national guidelines for comprehensive police reform. We will identify the categories of problems that lead to injustice and apply solution patterns that have worked. We will use our unique federal model, where we have 50 great states, 50 great crucibles of justice, to apply these recommendations and to learn from each other.

We recognize that there is anger, and underneath that anger, grief. We mourn with you today, protestors and mourners. Let me say clearly, I do not condone violence in any way, and those caught in the act of committing crimes will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Let me say again, I do not condone violence in any way, and police caught escalating violence will be fired, and if necessary, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I am reminded of the words of America’s great architect of justice, Martin Luther King, Jr. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

We also recognize that there are elements of our country that would have us go deeper into the darkness from which we are only now emerging. We know that some of these elements are infiltrating peaceful protests and stirring up discord and doing damage. These evil people are motivated by the sin of white supremacy, which we must name. It is a sin that has infested our country like a plague since before its inception.

It is time to cure the disease. Let me say to you unequivocally. White supremacy has no place in the United States of America. I am also calling on the Attorney General to launch a special task force in conjunction with the FBI and the Southern Poverty Law Center to identify violent white identity extremists and dismantle their organizations. This is a free country, and you are free to speak your thoughts, however loathsome. However, when those thoughts turn into violent, hateful acts, you will be met with the full force of the justice of the United States.

For everyone whose heart is hurting, who has taken to the streets tonight: we are with you. We hurt with you. We are mothers and fathers, we are brothers and sisters, we are sons and daughters. We ask that you go home tonight, and rest. And in the morning, your mayors and city councilors and county commissioners and police chiefs and district attorneys will be ready to listen. Together, we will shape a more just America. We will not wait for the arc of history that Martin Luther King told us about to bend towards justice. We will grab it with our hands together and pull with all our might.

God bless you, and may God bless, and God forgive, the United States of America. 

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