Press "Enter" to skip to content

Rosa Golchin (’26) on “The Biden Interview” with John Harwood

Polis Student Reflection: The Biden Interview with John Harwood

Rosa Golchin ('26)

Rosa Golchin ('26)
Rosa Golchin ('26)

Veteran journalist John Harwood, the 2023-24 Polis Distinguished Fellow, conducted an exclusive interview with President Joe Biden for ProPublica. The conversation covered threats to democracy, given the backdrop of the January 6th riots, and the unprecedented nature of the upcoming election.

President Biden expressed concern about institutional changes and congressional gridlocks that are preventing cross-party cooperation. He also expressed concern about MAGA Republicans ability to drive the party towards hardline policies and their willingness to stray from constitutional processes. Harwood recalled President Biden’s statement that most Republicans do not belong to the MAGA group, but that they are driven by this vocal minority, and asked what it would take for the Republican party to realign itself with its true values. Biden reveals the true implications of this question, stating that “our democracy is at stake and it’s by altering the institutional structure that protect it.” He highlights the importance of communicating to the public that protecting democracy is more than “just political disagreement” and to encourage civic engagement and returning to the fundamentals of our constitution.

Harwood then turned his questions towards the judiciary, asking for the president’s opinions on the validity of the Supreme Court’s recent rulings and their ability to uphold the rule of law. While President Biden did not express great confidence for the current Supreme Court, he did argue that given the fundamentals of their guiding rules, “they would sustain the rule of the law.”

With the conversation firmly focused on the campaign of former president Trump, Biden conveyed the significance of voters’ decisions in the upcoming election in stating, “If the former president were to become president again, the things he said he will do are a threat to American democracy.” President Biden highlighted the role of Americas as a “central nation” for democracy and underscored the importance as such of preserving American democracy. President Biden presented his own key policies as broadly popular, and questioned how MAGA Republicans identify his views as extreme.

Throughout the conversation, Biden drew from his experience serving in the Senate as examples of his experience with bipartisanship and serving a constituency. Harwood directed his questions towards Biden’s policies aimed at supporting blue-collar workers, and Biden responded in short that these measures were grounded in “treating them with respect.” He saw this as part of changing the narrative of the Democratic Party of the 1970’s as being “limousine liberals” which were out of touch with the needs of the working class and described this approach as “building America from the middle down and the bottom-up,” establishing the people-centric and grassroots nature of his policy designs.

Alongside the content of his policies, Harwood brought up the question of using media to communicate with citizens. Biden identified several challenges in being able to capture the attention of the populus, which has created a new dynamic than other presidents have faced with the press. President Biden pointed to a string of historical developments in technology that change the delivery of information and even shift society as the consumption of information fundamentally changes and opens the door for new threats, such as disinformation. To conclude, Hardwood asked what every day Americans could do to be active members in the push to prevent the demise of democracy. Biden began by urging everyone to “vote,” but continued by imploring individuals to follow their values by “showing up” and engaging in two-way conversations.

Click here to watch the interview or click here to listen to the interview as part of John Harwood’s Bedeviled podcast.