I believe the Republicans have never thought that democracy was anything but a tribal myth. Hunter S. Thompson
Two speeches in the first week of September perfectly outline the areas of contention between the forces of democracy, and those who would reshape the U. S. government and the Constitution in an image that looks more like fascism everyday. Of course, the two speeches by President Joe Biden and Donald Trump offer a much different worldview of the nation and how the political winds are pushing both sides to the brink of incivility. Biden’s speech came from Philadelphia’s historic Independence Hall on September 1 while Trump chose Wilkes-Barre, Pa on September 3 at a gathering in support of carpetbagger Mehmet Oz, and his bid to win one of the state’s coveted Senate seats. Biden came sounding the alarm that our democracy is in peril and called for a unified front in confronting Trump and his MAGA supporters. Trump came to speak only to his faithful, sowing seeds of distrust and lies that suited his purpose.
Since much of Trump’s psychopathic wailings were mostly in response to what Biden had to say, Biden goes first. Most Americans know that Biden came out swinging by attacking Trump and his MAGA supporters as an aberration never seen in American history. When he stated early on in the speech, “. . . too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal, Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” it was obvious this was going to be a speech to rock the nation. Had Biden stopped there, the speech would still be one for the record books. However, the president had much more to say and hadn’t begun to throw shade on Trump and his freaky band of loyal insurrectionist.
It is important to note, as well, Biden went to great links to distinguish Trump’s MAGA supporters from mainstream Republicans by stating, “Not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans. Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology.” No, Biden was speaking directly to Trump and the MAGA crowd saying aloud what others have not. The jig was up, and Biden for one would no longer condone the actions of known insurrectionists who think their views are more important and beneficial for the country than sane and honest understanding of the issues. They are wrong, and he was right to say so for the nation to clearly hear and understand.
As is their wont, Trump and his minions were quick to cry foul, calling the speech political, rather than bipartisan. They claim the choice of Independence Hall , and the fact Marine guards stood behind the podium, were indications that the president was using both as a ploy to underscore his message. It was neither. The Republicans are revisionists and seem to forget presidents of their own party that used the military and government buildings as backdrops for their own political messages. Can anyone forget W standing on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln proclaiming “Mission Accomplished” less than two years after September 11, 2002. In truth, the war was only just beginning. Or how many times in his four years of office did Trump use the White House, the Rose Garden, the Lincoln Memorial, and other sites to promote clearly political messages.
None of those instances compare to what Joe Biden did in Philadelphia . He wasn’t pushing a Democratic stance. Indeed, he seemed incredulous that much of the nation is either ignorant or complicit as to the gravity of what is going on in the nation today.. The only logical path was for him to cut to the quick of the matter and point a finger at the extreme right who are engaged in support of a creeping fascism that threatens the foundation of American democracy. He clearly surprised both the right and the left with his blunt, no nonsense delivery that named Trump and the MAGA Republicans as the culprits who choose conspiracy theories, Trump’s word, and nonsensical claims over truth and common sense. A more succinct way of describing Trump and his followers is in the incredible concept album The Point by Harry Nilsson and the song “The Pointless Man”. The lyrics quote the Rock Man when he says, “The rock man said, ‘Say babe , isn’t nuthin’ pointless about this game. The thing is, you see what you wanna see – and you hear what you wanna hear. You dig?”‘ Many in Trump World are obviously “seeing” the wrong things in America right now.
One reaction from the press deliciously describes what Biden accomplished in his speech. In an Opinion piece for Raw Story titled “No president in my lifetime ever talked about his Republican predecessor like Joe Biden did” , John Stoehr points out the oddity, and importance, of what Biden accomplished in his speech. He begins his commentary with the poignant statement, ” Here’s the important thing about the president’s prime-time address Thursday evening on the steps of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. That it happened.” Stoehr continues by beginning several of his paragraphs leading into the points he makes with the refrain, “No Democratic president has ever, in my lifetime . . .”
- . . . talked about a former GOP president the way Joe Biden did,
- . . . questioned publicly the elemental patriotism of a former Republican president and his followers.
- . . . identified the people’s enemy in the course of being the people’s partisan.
He then lays out Biden’s reasoning in his own summation of the speech writing, “In my view, last night’s speech was the BFD of BFDs.”
There is a simple reason why Biden did what he did, and one that some Trump and his MAGA acolytes cannot seem to grasp or refuse to acknowledge. America has never had a president like Donald J. Trump. The other 45 presidents for the most part acted with dignity and honor that the office demands. Sure, there have been exceptions, Nixon and Clinton come to mind, however, no American president was a known serial liar, grifter, misogynist, insurrectionist, twice impeached, or who defaced America’s standing at home and abroad like he has and continues to do. Biden was right to call him and the MAGA horde out for what they are: People who do not love this country and want to tear it down for their own selfish reasons jeopardize the very foundations of our republic. It is Biden’s job to call out those who would do so in as harsh and forceful a manner as possible. It’s called tough love.
Then there was Trump’s speech in Wilkes-Barre, PA with a decidedly darker and more insular tone. The speech ran two hours with little new revealed by Trump as he sang a false tune of danger and foreboding. It was only in the last six minutes when maudlin music filled the arena and his voice turned into a sing song lilt that things got interesting. Much like a greatest hits revival tour, Trump bashed everyone who he feels has not kissed the ring and backed his falsehoods and conspiracies.
This was the first time Trump spoke since the FBI served a search warrant on his Mar-a-Lago compound, so of course, they were the first to be criticized. He claims Democrats weaponized law enforcement “like never before” before claiming the FBI does not pursue “election facts” that tend to reside only in his mind. The Department of Justice in his view either condones or allows “egregious acts of voting irregularities and fraud”. His next statement is actually ironic when he said America has a president who is “cognitively impaired, and everyone knows it.” This is a point in his dirge that one realizes that maybe continuing is a waste of time. He goes on to touch on all of the hot button items that MAGA Republicans eat up like candy: China, Iran, free speech, the press is the enemy of the people, blah, blah, blah . . .
The gist of the speech’s ending is that compared to Biden’s speech Trump has nothing new to offer. While Biden’s speech might be seen as a bit caustic, Trump’s speech confirmed what the current president was trying to get across: Trump and MAGA republicans want to tear down our government and Constitution to uphold their falsehoods, grift, and the deeply held vision that America is doomed unless people turn to him as their savior. Biden put a wedge in that argument by calling out Trump and the MAGA crowd, but at the same time, acknowledging that not all Republicans are Trump Republicans. No one can say what the future holds for Donald Trump, but it is a good bet he won’t be winning over the minds and hearts of true Americans and patriots any time soon.