Biden and Trump Say They’re Fighting for America’s ‘Soul.’ What Does That Mean?

Ms. Lebrón Malavé sighed when she thought of Mr. Biden’s emphasis on restoring the soul with little concrete discussion of policies.

“People want to hear that there is something left to fight for because it is so hard for us to imagine what it would have to be like to dismantle the whole thing,” she said. “He is appealing to a particular mind-set of people who were not taught to fathom a possibility of a new world outside of what we already know.”

For others, the soul is where it all begins.

In Kenosha, Wis., not long after a police officer shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, leaving him paralyzed, a group of interfaith clergy held a prayer service in a parking lot, under a clear blue sky.

“The soul of Kenosha is at stake,” Patrick Roberts of First Baptist Church said to the gathering.

He shared his rare experience of being a Black pastor of a majority-white congregation. Sunday morning remains one of the most segregated hours in the country, he said, and healing the soul of the community would require more than simply a social program or a jobs program for the unemployed.

You would know the soul was healed, he said, when a person of any race could walk anywhere in Kenosha and feel safe.

Later, in an interview, he reflected on Mr. Biden’s campaign promise.

“We don’t know the policies he will come up with,” he said. “I think he is just talking on basic terms, getting back to terms of human decency, interaction that is respectable, regardless of your income, your ideology, your color.”

“For me,” he said, “that is good enough.”

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