Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democrat presidential nominee, said Tuesday evening that he is “excited” by the opportunity for “institutional changes” in the United States prompted by the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
Biden made the comment during a virtual fundraising event conducted via the video conferencing app Zoom, according to a press pool report by New York Times reporter Katie Glueck. Speaking to attendees, Biden raised the prospect of implementing “institutional changes” without us “becoming a ‘socialist country,’ or any of that malarkey.” He then said he was “excited” by the opportunity, before adding: “We have a chance to really move the ball forward in the next three or four years.”
Biden’s full remarks are as follows:
I believe, because, sort of, the blinders have been taken off, because of this COVID crisis, I think people are realizing, “My Lord. Look at what is possible. Look at the institutional changes we can make – without us becoming a ‘socialist country,’ or any of that malarkey – that we can make to provide the opportunities to change the institutional drawbacks …” from education, all the way through to all the other things we talked about.
And if I sound like I’m excited, I am, because I really think, think about this, the United States – I am a student of history – the United States is one of the few countries in the world, whatever crisis they’re faced with, we’ve overcome it. And we’ve always come out stronger, better.
We have a chance to really move the ball forward in the next three or four years. But it’s going to take you all being engaged, and us, you having, and all the younger people in your areas, having the opportunity to participate.
Biden is far from the first Democrat to express optimism of using the coronavirus pandemic to usher in systemic changes. On Monday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) drew scorn for appearing to cheer a historic drop in oil prices as an opportunity to invest in “green infrastructure to save our planet.”
“You absolutely love to see it,” the freshman congresswoman tweeted about the price drop. “This along with record low interest rates means it’s the right time for a worker-led, mass investment in green infrastructure to save our planet.”
The New York Democrat drew scorn for her tweet and deleted it shortly after.
Last month, House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) reportedly told Democrats on a conference call that the coronavirus stimulus package is a “tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”
Calls to use the pandemic for political gain recalls Rahm Emanuel, the incoming chief of staff to President-elect Barack Obama during the Great Recession, who said: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste… This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before.”