On the eve of the third anniversary of the storming of the Capitol building, US President Joe Biden yesterday delivered a speech in which he laid out the threats facing democracy, especially that which represents a possible return of Donald Trump to power. , in the middle of your message. This intervention was also – despite the Democrat announcing nine months ago that he would run again and carrying out some campaign and fundraising events – the big starting point for the presidential race, as everything indicates that he and Trump will repeat it. Dueling in 2020. He did so with a strong and devastating tone denouncing the Republican and his actions and plans.
Except for a storm forecast on the coast this weekend that forced the speech to be moved forward by one day, nothing was left to chance. Biden chose an educational center located only 15 kilometers from Valley Forge in Pennsylvania, one of the symbolic places of the War of Independence, as a theater. There, troops under George Washington endured the winter of 1777-1778, and what arrived as a coalition of settler militias emerged as a cohesive and disciplined force that five years later achieved victory over the British.
Biden's bet on this place and the character of Washington to commemorate the January 2021 uprising and frame his election campaign was not a coincidence. Since the first president, he has taken the idea of democracy as a “sacred issue.” “This is not a rhetorical, academic or hypothetical question,” he said. “Whether democracy remains America's sacred cause is the most pressing question of our time, which is what the 2024 election is about.” It's an idea he also used in his first campaign ad of the year, which was aptly titled “The Case.” He warns of “an extremist movement that does not share the basic convictions of our democracy,” which he described as “dangerous.”
But Washington also served Biden as a contrast to Trump: he was the one who handed over command of the military and then voluntarily left the presidency after his first two terms and heralded a peaceful transfer of power that would last until 2020, and the Republican refused to accept the election results. His defeat and strengthened efforts to try to reverse it, which ended with the storming of the Capitol.
Biden, as his advisers expected he would, and as he has done in the past in other speeches warning of dangers to democracy or on the anniversary of the attack on the Capitol, was direct about what happened on January 6, the role Trump played in it, and what has happened since. . He was brutal but stuck to the facts in his description of the actions of Trump, who famously called him hurtful names, such as “loser.”
Beyond these attacks, he warned of the dangers he and his followers faced: “When the attacks happened there was no doubt about the truth. Even Republican members of Congress and Fox News commentators should be condemned publicly and in private,” but over time, time, politics and money intervened. The voices of the global coalition against America have abandoned the truth and our democracy. They have made their choice. “Now we have to take the rest, Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans, as our own.”
Biden needs this message to succeed. Although 14 of the 91 criminal charges facing former President Trump are related to his attempts to overturn the election, according to a recent Washington Post and University of Maryland poll, 25% of Americans believe the FBI was behind the attack. The percentage of citizens who believe that Trump is responsible decreased within two years from 60% to 53%, and remained at only 14% in the case of Republicans. More than 70% of conservatives believe that it is time to turn the page on that episode.
The Democrat must also confront the strategy used by Trump, who repeats the message that Biden is the “true destroyer of democracy,” accusing him without evidence of being behind his accusations and thus trying to invalidate his main political rival. He even went so far as to call him an “insurrectionist” after the courts disqualified him from appearing on the primary ballot in Colorado, a decision he appealed to the Supreme Court.
The Republican, who has promised to pardon those convicted of assault if he wins, and has raised alarm bells with his authoritarian plans for a second term, plans to hold two rallies today in Iowa, where the first caucuses will be held next Wednesday in the Republican primaries. . His campaign did not advance what he would address in his speeches.
Biden faces other challenges beyond his potential rival. His approval ratings are below 40%, many question his physical and mental condition and the chance to run again at the age of 81, and he has failed to make the public recognize the progress in the economy and see the collapse of the coalition that got him to the election. The Oval Office, especially among young people and minorities because of its position on the Gaza war.
It also explains why he chose Pennsylvania for his first big speech, a swing state that swept Trump in 2020 but could lose again in November. It is useful to understand the location chosen for his speech on Monday. That will be at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where in 2015 a white supremacist slaughtered nine black people in an attempt to start a race war. And once again he will be able to talk about the existential threat that extremism poses to the United States. He will do so in the state that launched his candidacy in 2020, where the black vote is crucial.
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