Donald Trump is a demagogue and a con man. He’s a bully who can never unite America. A race-baiting, xenophobic bigot. He’s a narcissist at a level the country has never seen before. A pathological liar who is utterly amoral. He’s a terrible human being whose statements are simply indefensible and disgusting. His behavior is atrocious and his actions are totally wrong.
None of those things came from President Joe Biden’s speech on Thursday evening. Those are the statements of Republicans in the House and Senate, who are now engaged in heavy-duty pearl clutching and pulling out the fainting couches to show how they take deep, deep umbrage at Biden pointing out a threat they recognized five years ago.
It’s not that Republicans don’t know that Trump is waging a war against both democracy and decency. It’s that they already surrendered. And now the Vichy GOP is going through the motions of pretending to be offended at Biden pointing out the threat of Trumpism. Because no one is more prickly, skittish, and hysterical, than people who know, right down to their bones, that they are on the wrong side.
On Thursday evening, President Biden stepped outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia to deliver a compelling, heartfelt, and absolutely necessary speech addressing the greatest threat that has faced America at least since the end of the Cold War: The rise of fascism within our own borders. That threat has already generated violence in cities around the country, and a massive attack on the U.S. Capitol in which there was an attempt to murder members of Congress and overturn the government. It is, right this moment, driving a movement to corrode and destroy democracy by overtly attacking the mechanisms of elections.
The threat is real and the danger is present in candidates for county, state, and federal office who have all agreed that, to paraphrase what Biden said outside Independence Hall, there are only two outcomes to an election: They win, or they go to war. Russia is not a greater threat to the U.S. China is not a greater threat.
There are reasons why Sen. Lindsey Graham (“Trump is race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot”) is now rushing to defend him and calling out Biden to “stop lecturing.”
Why Sen. Ted Cruz (“Trump is a pathological liar who is utterly amoral”) is crying out against Biden for being “divisive” and for “vilifying” Trump’s followers.
Why Rep. Kevin McCarthy (“Trump’s behavior is atrocious and totally wrong”) felt compelled to do a pre-buttal of Biden’s speech saying that Biden was “assaulting the nation’s soul.”
Biden gave a speech defending democracy, the sanctity of free and fair elections, and the need to fight the forces dragging the nation toward fascism. And Republicans feel compelled to attack that speech. Not because they have the fervor of converts, but because they have already given in. Already bowed. Already sold their souls for a “win” that proved both meaner and more costly than they had ever imagined.
Now they have to pretend that they’re somehow the good guys, even as their leader is out there saying that, given the opportunity, he’ll pardon the people who erected a scaffold on the Capitol lawn. They have to find a way to claim they’re the real Americans, even as they campaign on erasing democracy.
"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 in his speech. “This time they are determined to succeed in thwarting the will of the people."
Not only is this true, it’s not even something they are hiding. From Arizona to Pennsylvania, this is the theme of Republican campaigns.
"They look at the mob that stormed the United States Capitol on January 6 brutally attacking law enforcement, not as insurrectionists who placed a dagger at the throat of our democracy, but they look at it as patriots," said Biden. Not only are Republicans defending these insurrectionists, but several of the Republican candidates are these insurrectionists. The list includes gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, who underscored his contempt for America by wearing a Confederate uniform, not in some distant period of adolescent confusion, but as an instructor at the U.S. War College just eight years ago. Mastriano is a white supremacist, racist, antisemitic traitor. He’s also the endorsed candidate of Donald Trump.
That’s who they are. That’s what they’re defending. That’s why all the people who saw the truth about Trump five years ago are squirming in their seats, and feeling uncomfortable under their bright red hats.
Republicans are angry because they embraced the darkness, and Biden is holding up a light. It’s not just that they’re on the wrong side of history and decency, it’s that they know it.
Donald Trump and his MAGA allies came close to overthrowing our democracy on January 6, and they will try again if they win in 2022. The best thing you can do is to help get out the Democratic vote for the midterms, and we need everyone to do what they can. Click here to find all the volunteer opportunities available.