Joe Biden warned that American democracy was in grave danger from Republican forces loyal to Donald Trump who are “fanning the flames” of political violence to seek power at all costs.
In a prime-time address from Philadelphia, the city where American democracy was born, the US president said the United States was in an ongoing battle for the “soul of the nation.”
It was a reiteration of a theme that inspired his 2020 White House campaign to frame the November election stakes as an existential choice between his party’s agenda and the Republicans’ “extreme Maga ideology.”
“Donald Trump and the Maga Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” Biden said in his Independence Hall remarks.
Maga is short for “Make America great again” – a slogan from Trump’s 2016 election campaign.
Biden stressed that not all, not even most, Republicans are “Maga extremists,” but there was no question, he said, that the party was “dominated, driven and intimidated” by its predecessor in the White House — and perhaps a future successor.
These Trump Republicans, he said, “prosper on chaos” and “don’t respect the Constitution” or the rule of law. It “promotes authoritarian leaders and they fan the flames of political violence,” he continued, adding that they believe there are only two possible outcomes to an election: either they win or they were cheated.
“You can’t love your country if you win alone,” Biden said to thunderous applause.
The relentless speech was part of a new aggressive line of attack that Biden has unleashed on Republicans ahead of the midterm elections as his party enjoys an enlightening political outlook aided by a string of key legislative victories and building public reaction to the decision. of the Supreme Court to stop the constitutional right to abortion.
It also comes as Trump, once again at the center of a criminal investigation — this one involving classified documents — lays the groundwork for a possible presidential run in 2024.
“Maga forces are determined to reclaim this country,” he said. “Back to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to birth control, no right to marry those you love.”
Biden also lashed out at Republicans for bolstering violent political rhetoric, including language aimed at federal agents after the FBI seized boxes of classified documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate last month.
The protection of democracy was a continuous line of Biden’s rise to the White House, which he said was motivated by the racial violence in Charlottesville. While he pledged to build national unity as president, the forces unleashed by Trump’s lie about a stolen 2020 election have only grown stronger in Biden’s nearly two years in office.
Polls show that a majority of Republicans do not believe Biden is the legitimately elected president. Election deniers are running for office, securing nominations for key positions with power over how future elections will be conducted. State and local election officials have become the target of harassment and threats.
“History teaches us blind allegiance to a single leader, and a willingness to engage in political violence is fatal to democracy,” said Biden, who vowed to defend the country’s system of government with “every fiber of my being.”
Thursday’s primetime address was the second of three visits by the president in less than a week to the Pennsylvania battlefield, which will host several consecutive races this election season.
One of the most troubling, democracy experts warn, is the nomination of Doug Mastriano, the far-right Republican nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, who has been a leading figure in Trump’s efforts to publicize the results of the 2020 election. to undo the state and helped people to Trump’s January 6 meeting in Washington that preceded the attack on the US Capitol.
In Pennsylvania, the governor appoints the secretary of state, giving the next governor tremendous influence on how the 2024 presidential election is conducted in the state.
Without naming candidates, Biden said the election deniers who ran as candidates saw their failure to prevent the peaceful transfer of power in 2020 as “preparing” for future elections.
Still, Biden tried not to label this fight as partisan, arguing that it was his “duty” as president to speak clearly about the threats facing the nation, regardless of their origin. Instead, he hoped his comments would serve as a call to arms for the majority of Americans who reject Trumpism, urging them not to be “bystanders in this ongoing attack on democracy.”
“We have long reassured ourselves that American democracy is guaranteed. But it’s not,” Biden said. “We must defend it. Protect it. Stand up for it. Each of us.”
Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the leader of the House of the Republicans and a staunch ally of Trump, delivered a “pre-buttal” to the president’s address from Biden’s hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania. In his comments, McCarthy accused Biden of “doing everything in his power to crush the soul of America” and demanded an apology from the president for accusing Republicans of being tied to a philosophy of “semi-fascism”.
McCarthy made no mention of the Jan. 6 attack or the widespread election denial embraced by most of his party’s supporters and many of their nominees for public office.
Rather, it was Trump on Thursday addressing the events of January 6, promising pardons and apologies to those who took part in the deadly attack on the United States Capitol if he were re-elected to the White House.
“I mean full pardon with apologies to many,” he told Wendy Bell, a conservative radio host on Thursday. “I will look very, very strongly at pardon, full pardon.”
Trump will hold a rally in Scranton on Saturday.
Critics say the president’s belligerent rhetoric shows he has failed in his promise to bring the nation together. Republican National Committee chairman Ronna McDaniel called Biden the “chieftain” who “turned neighbors against each other” with his divisive agenda.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said it was clear Biden had “touched a nerve” and that he was making Republicans uncomfortable with his urging Americans to reject Trumpism.
But America’s political divisions run deep. As Biden spoke outside Independence Hall, he was repeatedly interrupted by a heckler shouting profanity. Biden said it was his right to be “outrageous” because “this is a democracy”.
“We are still a democracy at our core,” Biden said, ending his speech with the rallying cry, “Democracy!”