US President Joe Biden delivers a Christmas address from the Cross Hall of the White House in Washington, DC, on December 22, 2022. (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
'Let's spread a little kindness': Biden delivers Christmas message to Americans
07:45 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

President Joe Biden attempted to strike a unifying message in a Christmas speech to the nation that came as he moves into the second half of his term in office.

“The message of Christmas is always important, but it’s especially important through tough times like the ones we’ve been through the past few years,” Biden said from the White House. “The pandemic has taken so much from us. We’ve lost so much time with one another, we’ve lost so many people, people we loved – over a million lives lost in America alone.”

“That’s a million empty chairs, breaking hearts and homes all across the country,” he continued. “Our politics has gotten so angry, so mean, so partisan, and too often we see each other as enemies, not as neighbors, as Democrats or Republicans, not as fellow Americans. We’ve become too divided.”

In an era of isolation brought on by technology and the pandemic, Biden encouraged reaching out to connect. He wished for the “poison” to be drained from politics in favor of bipartisan cooperation. And using the tenets of his Catholic faith and his own experience with loss, he sought to encourage Americans into a more empathetic era.

US First Lady Jill Biden (L) listens to US President Joe Biden deliver a Christmas address from the Cross Hall of the White House in Washington, DC, on December 22, 2022. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Two years into his presidency, Biden has struggled at times to fulfill one of his chief promises: restoring normalcy to American political discourse and decency to the way Americans of differing views treat each other. Even he has admitted he did not anticipate the “fever” of the Trump era would have endured this long into his presidency.

But the president on Thursday struck an optimistic tone about the state of the nation, saying that among tough moments, “We see bright spots all across the country – the strength, the determination, the resilience that has long defined America.”

His address Thursday seemed designed to remind Americans that those ideals remain at the heart of his vision for the country. Even as the country’s angry voices remain the loudest – very often obscuring Biden himself in the battle for attention – the president seemed intent on speaking to the vast swath of Americans who are looking for something calmer.

In that sense, his speech encompassed all of the traits that have defined his outlook for the past half-century.

The call to unity as the nation transitions into the Christmas season also marks the beginning of when family conversations among the Bidens are expected to ensue about whether their patriarch should mount another presidential run. And come 2023, Biden will be operating within a new power balance in Washington. Congress will be divided, with Democrats maintaining their majority in the Senate and Republicans taking over the House of Representatives.

The president emphasized that “we’re surely making progress” and “things are getting better.”

“Covid no longer controls our lives. Our kids are back in school. People are back to work. In fact, more people are working than ever before,” he said. “Americans are building again, innovating, dreaming again.”

Still, he acknowledged that, for some, “Christmas can be a time of great pain and terrible loneliness,” drawing on his own experience with loss over the holidays – the deaths of his first wife and daughter 50 years ago this week.

“I know how hard this time of year can be … no one can ever know what someone else is going through, what’s really going on in their life, what they’re struggling with, what to try and overcome. That’s why sometimes the smallest act of kindness can mean so much,” Biden remarked.

“So, this Christmas, Let’s spread a little kindness.”