Ahead of the crucial November midterm elections, US President Joe Biden in a scathing attack on his predecessor Donald Trump warned that he and his blind supporters are a threat to the country’s democracy and asked Americans to confront the “extremists” who fan the flames of political violence in pursuit of power.
In a prime-time address from Philadelphia, the US president said the United States was in a continued battle for the soul of the nation.
“As I stand here tonight, equality and democracy are under assault,” Biden said.
“Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal. Donald Trump and MAGA (Make America Great Again) Republicans represent an extremism that threatens our very republic. MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution,” he said, in a rare instance of slamming his predecessor by name.
“MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards. Backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love. They promote authoritarian leaders. They fanned the flames of political violence,” the 79-year-old US president said.
Standing in front of the Independence Hall, the cradle of American democracy, Biden told several hundreds of people attending his ‘Soul of the Nation’ speech that equality and democracy are under assault.
In his speech, Biden repeatedly called out Trump.
“History tells us that blind loyalty to a single leader and a willingness to engage in political violence is fatal to democracy,” he said.
Not every Republican is MAGA Republican, he said, adding that not every Republican shares their extreme ideology.
Alleging that MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution, Biden called them “insurrectionists and election deniers” who “embrace anger and thrive on chaos”.
MAGA Republicans are a “clear and present danger to our democracy,” he alleged.
They live not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies, Biden said.
“So, tonight, I have come to this place where it all began to speak as plainly as I can to the nation about the threats we face, about the power we have in our own hands to meet these threats, and about the incredible future that lies in front of us, if only we choose it,” Biden said.
“We must never forget that we, the people, are the true heirs of the American experiment that began more than two centuries ago,” he said.
Biden said Americans still believed in honesty, decency and respect for others. “Patriotism, liberty, justice for all, hope, possibilities, we are still at our core a democracy,” he said.
“For a long time, we’ve told ourselves that American democracy is guaranteed, but it’s not. We have to defend it, protect it, stand up for it, each and every one of us. That’s why tonight, I’m asking our nation to come together, unite behind the single purpose of defending our democracy regardless of your ideology,” Biden said in his national speech.
“We’re all called by duty and conscience to confront extremists who put their own pursuit of power above all else. Democrats, Independents, mainstream Republicans, we must be stronger, more determined, and more committed to saving the American democracy, and MAGA Republicans are just — they’re destroying American democracy,” he said.
“We, the people, will not let anyone or anything tear us apart. I want to say this plain and simple, there is no place for political violence in America,” Biden said.
MAGA republicans do not believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people, Biden said.
“They refuse to accept the results of a free election and they are working right now as I speak in state after state to give the power to decide elections in America to partisans and cronies, empowering election deniers to undermine democracy itself,” he said.
Trump supporters thought of the mob who stormed the US Capitol last year as patriots rather than insurrectionists, he said.
“They look at the mob that stormed the United States Capitol on January 6th brutally attacking law enforcement, not as insurrectionists who placed a dagger at the throat of our democracy but as patriots, and they see their MAGA failure to stop a peaceful transfer of power after the 2020 election as preparation for the 2022 and 2024 elections,” Biden said.
His remarks come as Trump, once again at the center of a criminal investigation this one involving classified documents lays the groundwork for a potential 2024 presidential run.
“They tried everything last time to nullify the votes of 81 million people. This time, they’re determined to succeed in thwarting the will of the people. That’s why respected conservatives like Federal Circuit Court Judge Michael Luttig have called Trump and the extreme MAGA Republicans ‘a clear and present danger’ to our democracy,'” Biden said.
Biden’s address comes two months before mid-term elections, which will decide the power balance in Washington.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, in the Republicans’ rebuttal speech, called on Biden to apologise for a remark calling MAGA philosophy semi-fascism.
“President Biden has chosen to divide, demean and disparage his fellow Americans. Why? Simply because they disagree with his policies. That is not leadership,” he said.
Last week, Biden equated what he called “extreme” Republicans with “semi-fascism”.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised Biden for his inspiring and optimistic remarks in which he made crystal clear that their rights and freedom are on the line.
“In Congress and across the country, extreme MAGA Republicans are orchestrating a sinister campaign. From criminalising women’s healthcare to ending Social Security and Medicare to undermining our elections, the GOP is working to turn back the clock on many of our most fundamental liberties while fanning the flames of violence and division,” Pelosi said.
“The American people are rejecting the Republicans’ extreme MAGA agenda, and instead, choosing the Democrats’ unifying vision of ‘People Over Politics’,” she said.