The Meaning and Context of US President Joe Biden’s Recent Speech on Threats to US Democracy

During his prime-time speech to the American public at Independence Hall in Philadelphia On Thursday (September 1), President Joe Biden launched one of his most vocal attacks on the “extremism” of former President Donald Trump and his disgruntled supporters, saying they are “undermining the foundations of our republic,” and called on American citizens to vote to protect democracy in the upcoming midterm elections.

While he distinguished between “traditional Republicans” and “MAGA Republicans,” in reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, he nevertheless asserted that the Republican Party today is “dominated, led and bullied by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans ‘who are determined to roll back the country,’ where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to birth control, no right to ‘marry who you love’.

His oft-repeated battle for the soul of the nation against MAGA Republicans who repudiate his 2020 election victory, comes months before November’s midterm elections, where Democrats are desperate to maintain their narrow House majorities. of Representatives and in the Senate (lower and upper houses of Congress).

deep fault lines

Biden’s address to his Democratic voter base, as well as Republicans who “reject extreme MAGA ideology” comes at a time when the American body politic is as fractured as it has ever been. Since Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, Republicans have falsely claimed the election was stolen – a position that has always been maintained by Trump.

On January 6, 2021, thousands of Trump supporters besiege the Capitol in Washington in an effort to block certification of Biden’s election victory. Polls suggest that more than a year aftera considerable number of GOP supporters continue to believe the “big lie” that Trump was the real winner.

Former President Donald Trump (AP/PTI, file)

The US Department of Justice says it has arrested more than 860 people for crimes related to the storming of the US Capitol, including more than 260 charged with assaulting or obstructing law enforcement, as reported reported Reuters. On September 1, retired New York Police Department officer Thomas Webster was sentenced to a record 10 years in prison for rioting at the Congress building and using a metal pole to assault a police officer. .

In his speech, Biden blasted MAGA Republicans, saying that “they don’t believe in the rule of law…(and) refuse to accept the results of free elections. He added that they work to empower “supporters and cronies” and “empower election deniers to undermine democracy itself.”

According to a Washington Post analysis from August 15, in the 41 states that made the nomination for November’s midterm elections, more than half of the Republican Party winners – about 250 candidates in 469 contests – confirm Trump’s false claim that the 2020 presidential elections were stolen.

Meaning of speech

Biden’s speech was delivered in Philadelphia’s historic Independence Hall, lit up in red and blue, the colors of the American flag. Biden’s warnings about the threat his country faces from Trump and his supporters could not have been given on a larger site. The birthplace of American democracy, Independence Hall was where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. It’s also where the country’s constitution was debated and adopted a decade later.

The timing of the speech is also no coincidence, according to the BBC, as it came just before Federal Labor Day in the US, which would be seen as the start of the campaign’s home stretch ahead of the election. mid-term in November.

Biden had faced a record approval rating of around 36% in July, but has now fallen to the low of 40 in light of falling gas prices and his administration’s success in passing a series of legislations, as reported by the Washington Post. Despite modest improvements, he still faces a 53% disapproval rating.

In light of this, he is trying, according to the BBC, to “reframe the choice of the November midterm elections as not about him, but as a choice between democratic freedoms and ‘Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans’.”

Major Developments in American Policy

Biden’s urgent call for Americans to “vote, vote, vote” comes after a series of rapid political changes in recent months that are likely to galvanize Democratic voters for the upcoming election.

On August 25, Biden announced that the federal government would forgive up to $20,000 in student loans for millions of people. While many Republican leaders criticized the move, an Economist/YouGov poll from July found that the majority of Americans, especially Democratic voters, support student debt reduction.

In an unprecedented move, FBI agents raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in August after a criminal investigation into potential mishandling and illegal concealment of government documents, including many contained classified information.

According to Washington Post, the search warrant for his home and the FBI affidavit mention three potential laws that Trump may have violated, but it is not yet known whether the former president will be charged. It comes at a time when the Justice Department is pressuring Trump in a separate investigation into his alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election result and his role in the Jan. 6 attack by his supporters on the US Capitol. .

Perhaps the most significant legal development took place on June 24, when the United States Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade that made abortion a constitutional right and left abortion laws entirely to the states, denying millions of Americans to retain state-governed legal access to the procedure.

American exceptionalism

Biden’s speech was based on a basic argument, that America is the greatest country in the world, and that Trump and his supporters are endangering that exalted position. From the start, Biden emphasized how the United States, with its Declaration of Independence and its Constitution, laid the foundations of equality and democracy, which made it the “beacon of the world” for more than two centuries.

According to Biden, MAGA Republicans besiege both of these tenets. “They tried everything last time to nullify the votes of 81 million people,” he said against the backdrop of the thousands of Trump supporters who stormed the US Capitol on January 6. “This time, they are determined to succeed in thwarting people’s will.”

Biden indicated in his speech that Americans should unite against MAGA forces who are “committed to rolling this country backwards.” After praising the measures introduced by his administration in gun control, climate change, health care and the Covid response, he ended his speech on an optimistic note. May America continue to be “the beacon of the world” and “that for the next 200 years we will have what we have had for the past 200 years: the greatest nation on the face of the earth.”

Kevin E. Boling