Biden, who delivered his speech from the House chamber that rioters stormed in hopes of stopping then-Vice President Mike Pence from certifying 2020 presidential election results, didn’t bring up the chaos that ensued in that spot a little over a year earlier — or how a mob of angry Donald Trump supporters tried to overthrow the seat of democracy so Biden wouldn’t become president.
Biden did allude to the setting without specifically talking about the attack.
“In this Capitol, generation after generation, Americans have debated great questions amid great strife, and have done great things. We have fought for freedom, expanded liberty, defeated totalitarianism and terror. And built the strongest, freest and most prosperous nation the world has ever known,” Biden said.
It was a noticeable omission in a speech that focused heavily on the major crises of the day: Russian forces invading Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic, the shaky economy and skyrocketing inflation.
Tuesday marked Biden’s first State of the Union address and his second speech in front of a joint session of Congress. In April 2021, Biden spoke to lawmakers 100 days into his term and asked them to pass his twin infrastructure and domestic spending bills.
A lot has happened since then.
The violence and upheaval in Europe have taken center stage, but prior to that, Americans weren’t feeling especially upbeat about the future of democracy following the 2020 election and the Capitol riot.
In January, an NPR/Ipsos poll found that 64% of Americans believe the nation’s democracy is “in crisis and at risk of failing,” and two-thirds of Republicans agreed with the false claim that voter fraud helped Biden win the 2020 election.
At the end of his address, Biden laid out a “unity agenda” that included beating the opioid epidemic, enhancing mental health resources for children, supporting veterans and beating cancer.
“We will save democracy,” Biden said.