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Last week, in a prime-time address to the entire nation, President Biden accused Republican supporters of former President Trump of being extremists and endangering our democracy. Never in the country’s history has a president been seen lashing out at the millions of militant members of the opposition party. After all, the President is the president of all Americans, regardless of which party they belong to. Unfortunately, the only thing Biden will accomplish with his address is to divide the people further, which is truly ironic considering that Biden promised us, from the beginning of his administration, that he would work to unite the country.
The President tried to minimize the unseemliness of his speech by assuring us that Republicans loyal to Trump, or MAGA Republicans, as he calls them, alluding to the former President’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again,” are only a minority group within the party. But Biden knows this is false. All polls show that today, the vast majority of Republicans are MAGA Republicans. The majority support the former president’s political philosophy and want him to be the party’s nominee for president in the 2024 election. So the president knows full well that when he attacks MAGA Republicans, he attacks virtually every Republican in the country.
Although the White House insisted that the speech was not political, it is clear that it was. In the face of his administration’s low approval ratings, Biden has apparently concluded that the only way Democrats can be competitive in the midterm elections is to demonize the opposition. That explains the hyperbolic language used in his speech. According to the president MAGA Republicans “do not respect the Constitution,” “do not believe in the rule of law,” “fan the flames of political violence,” and, in short, “represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”
The further goal of this narrative is to make voters think that today’s Republicans are an imminent danger to the nation’s security and to move them to vote for Democrats as the solution to this threat. Republicans are bad, and Democrats are good. It’s as simple as that.
That’s why Biden called on “Democrats, independents, mainstream Republicans” to “be stronger, more determined, and more committed to saving American democracy than MAGA Republicans are to —to destroying American democracy” and later urged them to “vote, vote, vote.”
It is troubling, moreover, that Biden is trying to imply that Republicans are also a risk to democracy because of the ideas they advocate, such as the right to life. Is being pro-life now anti-democratic? Besides, isn’t that precisely what democracy is all about —taking positions and trying to advance them through debate and legislative processes?
Moreover, it is ironic that the president who now declares that there is a battle to be fought for democracy and for upholding law and order is the same president who has appointed activist judges to impose a leftist ideological agenda from the courts, usurping the power of the people’s elected representatives, and who chooses not to enforce the law on the border with Mexico, creating an unprecedented national security crisis.
Biden is also dishonest when he says that today’s Republicans encourage and justify violence, referring exclusively to the Jan. 6 violence perpetuated by hundreds of former Trump supporters on Capitol Hill. This unfortunate episode was undoubtedly tragic, but it is unfair to conclude, as the president does, that such behavior is typical of Trump supporters or somehow condoned by them. It is wrong to judge the righteous for sinners. The reality is that the millions of people who identify with Trump’s ideology are honest, responsible citizens who are politically active only because they want what is best for their country. If the president cares about uniting the country, he should praise them for their civic engagement and patriotism rather than criticize them.
It is striking that the president focuses on this sad event to make irresponsible generalizations about Republicans while choosing not to talk about the violent demonstrations organized by leftist groups in multiple cities across the country during the summer of 2020. Let us not forget that, when this violence occurred, Biden did not condemn it, even though it resulted in over thirty deaths and included the destruction of public and private property. This selective discussion of political violence detracts from the credibility of anything Biden says on the subject.
It is distressing that, in a supposed defense of democracy, Biden has given a fundamentally anti-democratic speech, similar to those of autocratic leaders like Vladimir Putin and Nicolas Maduro, who are accustomed to vilifying anyone who opposes them. Instead of engaging in a vigorous debate of ideas with the opposition, which is what one does in a democracy, Biden preferred to promote hatred and division to advance his political agenda.
Alfonso Aguilar es de Senior VP and Political Director de El American, exjefe de la Oficina de Ciudadanía de los Estados Unidos durante la administración del presidente George W. Bush y presidente del Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. // Alfonso Aguilar is the Senior VP and Political Director of El American and former head of the Office of United States Citizenship during the administration of President George W. Bush and president of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles.