By The Editorial Board
Democrats often claim that Republicans can’t move on from Donald Trump, but if one thing was clear from President Joe Biden’s national address last week, it was that Democrats can’t, either.
Neglect the fact that the president used the Marines as a prop for a political speech, and put aside the fact that the aesthetics of the event were some of the worst in American history. Mr. Biden’s words, just by themselves, warrant the ire of anyone who actually cares about ‘norms’ in political discourse.
Within the first few moments of the speech, Mr. Biden had already – in pure campaign fashion – taken to name dropping Mr. Trump and the “MAGA Republicans,” the former president’s loyal fanbase. And Mr. Biden proceeded to do so more than once, referring to them as “extremists” and “threats to democracy.”
His conflations of ‘extremists’ with ‘people-who-support-ideas-I-don’t-like’ was evident from the beginning. “MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards — backwards to an America where there is no right to choose,” accused Mr. Biden. So if a person is pro-life, a view that has been mainstream within the Republican party for four decades, he or she is an extremist threat to democracy and an enemy of the state? It sounds like it.
And then, of course, there were his attacks on election denialism. “They [the MAGA movement] refuse to accept the results of a free election,” Mr. Biden complained, while deeming such people as dangerous extremists. The president’s attack is disingenuous, to say the least. His own White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has denied both the results of the 2016 presidential election and Georgia’s 2018 gubernatorial election. Mr. Biden endorsed noted election denier Stacey Abrams in her rematch bid against Brian Kemp and says no word of the 67 percent of Democrats who believed, contrary to any evidence, that the 2016 election was stolen. Democrats also spent a whopping $44 million boosting election deniers in GOP primaries this summer, believing they are easier to run against. If Mr. Biden wants to condemn people who don’t accept election results, then he should do so, but cherry picking and ignoring when his own party does it is incredibly dishonest.
As if that wasn’t enough, Mr. Biden proceeded to say that, “MAGA Republicans do not respect the constitution. They do not believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people.” This is true of some Republicans, and they deserve criticism. But the ones to levy this criticism cannot be Mr. Biden and his Democratic Party, who have spent the last two years refusing to abide by the very constitution and principles they purport to support.
Last year, Mr. Biden issued an unconstitutional executive order extending the eviction moratorium after admitting he didn’t have the power to issue it. He mandated that OSHA enforce a federal vaccine mandate without any valid legal or constitutional basis. Just last week, he spent a trillion dollars usurping all legislative authority to hand his voters student loan relief. And don’t forget about the time the majority of the Democratic establishment refused to condemn the BLM riots in summer of 2020. Vice President Kamala Harris even tweeted out a bail fund for rioters in the midst of it.
Does Mr. Biden really have the temerity to deem his political opponents as the sole violators of these norms?
Attempting to save face, Mr. Biden stated that, “Not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans. Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology. I know, because I’ve been able to work with these mainstream Republicans.” So, according to the president, every person who opposes his agenda because they rightfully see it as harmful to the country are extremist threats?
Mr. Biden’s incapability to tolerate opposing viewpoints and his inability to represent all Americans, even those not on his side, demonstrates undeniable hypocrisy. He cannot lecture Americans about “preserving democracy” when he is clearly not attempting to do so himself.
One address isn’t going to solve our country’s extreme division, but it could at least set us on a brighter path toward unity. Instead, Mr. Biden took to the podium to declare that the 74 million Americans who voted for Mr. Trump, and those who oppose him more broadly, are anti-democratic threats to the republic.
Last week’s speech re-iterated the broader trend for the current president: Deflect criticism, act like the people he’s condemning, and inflame tensions by gaslighting the public. The American people deserve better than the near-octogenarian catastrophe of a president they currently have.