Biden sends a stark warning about political violence ahead of midterms: ‘We can’t take democracy for granted any longer’


President Joe Biden issued a stark warning to Americans on Wednesday that the future of the nation’s democracy could rest on next week’s midterm elections, an urgent call six days before the final votes are cast in a race the president has framed in almost existential terms.

“We can no longer take democracy for granted,” the president said from Union Station in Washington, blocks from the U.S. Capitol, where a group was trying to block the 2020 election.

It was a stark message to Americans who think the country’s future is at stake in the run-up to next week’s congressional elections. Biden suggested that the dominance of candidates for office at every level of government who denied the results of the last presidential race was a red warning sign for the country.

“As I stand here today, there are candidates at every level in America – for governor, for Congress, for attorney general, for secretary of state – who will not commit to accepting the results of the election they are in. .” Biden said. “That’s the way to chaos in America. It is unique. It is illegal. And he’s not American.”

Biden’s speech laid the blame for the dire national situation at the feet of his predecessor, Donald Trump, and accused the former president of perpetrating a lie that metastasized into a web of conspiracies that had previously led to targeted violence.

“This intimidation, this violence against Democrats, Republicans and nonpartisan officials who are just doing their jobs, is the result of lies told for power and profit, lies of conspiracy and malice, lies repeated over and over again that create a cycle of anger, hate. They do. Rebellion and even violence. “At this moment we have to face those lies with the truth, the future of our nation depends on it.”

“American democracy is under attack because the former failed president … refuses to accept the will of the people,” Biden said.

The speech — a political event organized by the Democratic National Committee, not the White House — echoed points Biden has been making for weeks since an earlier speech in Philadelphia. Yet it strayed from the centerpiece of the Democrats’ closing midterm message, which is a brighter portrait of economic recovery.

Biden’s message on Wednesday was anything but optimistic, even as he expressed hope that Americans would reject the dangerous forces he identified. Aides said Biden was prompted to speak after last week’s attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband by an assailant who, according to his social media accounts, was involved in far-right conspiracies, including election fraud. was sent

Biden assured that most Americans, and even most Republicans, would not resort to violence. But he said that those will be greater than their influence.

“I believe the voices that advocate or call for violence and intimidation are a distinct minority in America,” Biden said. “But they are loud and determined.”

Biden and his team had been considering giving a speech on the topic of democracy for some time, but their decision was shaped in recent days by what they perceived as an increase in anti-democratic rhetoric and threats of violence. But the attack on Paul Pelosi scared Biden and his top advisers; The surprise home invasion and attack sent Pelosi, 82, to the hospital for surgery and has since been recovering from a fractured skull, among other injuries.

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 18: Paul Pelosi (L) and Democratic Speaker of the United States House Nancy Pelosi attend Tony Bennett's 85th Birthday Gala Benefit for the Study of the Arts at The Metropolitan Opera House on September 18, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Tony Bennett)

Prosecutor: The attacker woke Pelosi up, standing by his bed

Advisers said before the speech that Biden felt it was important for him to directly condemn these types of threats and acts of violence.

The issue of protecting the nation’s soul — and the pillars of the country’s democratic system — has been central to Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign. The president has since spoken about these issues throughout his presidency, but Wednesday’s speech marked an attempt to focus more on what is heading into the midterms.

Defending democracy has been a vivid feature of Biden’s thinking this political season and has come to the fore in his off-camera interactions with Democrats. A day before his speech in Washington, Biden warned a group of Democratic donors in Florida that “democracy is at the polls” this year – and offered something of a preview of his message for a later date.

“How can you say that you really care about democracy when you deny the existence of victory?” The only way you can win is if you win or the other guy cheats,” he said at the event, which was held on the oceanfront patio of a home in Golden Beach, Florida.

“This has not happened since the Civil War until now. It sounds like hyperbole, but it hasn’t been as bad since then as it is now,” he said.

Biden’s Civil War reference didn’t seem accidental; He was spotted this week carrying a copy of historian Jon Meacham’s new book, “And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle,” which explores how America’s 16th president faced secession and threats to democracy.

Meacham is an unofficial adviser to Biden and has helped write some of his most high-profile speeches.

Biden already indicated two months ago, going to Philadelphia, where there was a quick response from Trump and those associated with his efforts to destroy democracy.

“As I stand here tonight, equality and democracy are under attack,” Biden said at the time. “We don’t do ourselves any favors to pretend otherwise.”

Biden at the time strongly warned against what he called “an extremism that threatens the foundations of our republic.”


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