Within hours after taking office, Joe Biden called on Americans to put aside their deep differences, which had been exacerbated by a predecessor whom he deliberately chose to overlook during his campaign. He underlined the importance of national unity and urged Americans to band together in order to “put an end to this uncivil strife.”
The civil war he wanted to put an end to continues to fight, perhaps even more fiercely than before, as a divided nation commemorates the first anniversary of the January 6 assault on the United States Capitol building. Biden took a different approach in his speech on Thursday, which was scathing.
He declared himself to be “very clear” about the risks confronting the country, and he accused former President Donald Trump and his political allies of having a “dagger at the throat of America, at the heart of American democracy.”
During the 21-minute speech, which was delivered from the United States Capitol, Biden positioned himself as a champion of democracy in the “fight for the soul of the United States.”
Then he promised, “I will stand up in this breach.” “I will stand up for this country.”
A shift in tactics was signaled by Biden’s visceral response to Trump, who was never addressed by name but was instead mocked as the “defeated former president” in that moment of visceral speechmaking.
The decision to break his quiet on Trump comes at a difficult time in Biden’s presidency, with his Build Back Better agenda stalled, the Covid-19 pandemic resurgent, and broad economic despair all contributing to his choice to do so.
As such, it highlighted the reality that, far from being ostracized, Trump continues to be the most dominant force in the Republican Party and a prospective rival to Biden in the presidential election in 2020.
The decision to confront Trump was a calculated risk. Trump took advantage of the situation to launch a barrage of insults and accusations at his successor, whose statements, according to Trump, were “extremely damaging to many people.”
The consequences of continuing to overlook Trump and his “web of lies,” as Biden described it in his speech, were acknowledged in Biden’s speech. The vast majority of Republicans appear to trust Trump’s baseless allegations of election fraud, according to recent polling, while a growing number of Americans are willing to condone political violence in certain circumstances.
A slew of new voting restrictions are being pursued by Republican-controlled states, spurred in part by the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
At the same time, Republicans are passing legislation that injects partisanship into the administration of elections and vote counting, while simultaneously stripping power away from and driving power away from election officials who have refused to throw out votes or overturn elections in their respective states, among other things.
It was critical to be clear about the problem and the cause of the crisis, according to Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University historian who specializes in the Holocaust. The generic rhetoric about the polarization that we hear, which is devoid of agency, fails to capture the ways in which Trump and the Republican Party are at the root of so much instability.”
However, he cautioned that a speech can only accomplish so much. “As long as people are not held accountable for the events of January 6 and the campaign against the 2020 election, and as long as there is no meaningful legislation to protect voting rights and the electoral process, the so-called ‘dagger at the throat of democracy’ will remain in place.”
In his remarks, President Joe Biden said that defending voting rights was critical to preserving American democracy in general.
He attempted to draw a connection between Trump’s promotion of the notion that the 2020 election was tainted by fraud and Republicans’ systematic effort to “subvert” and undermine the democratic process in places where they hold the levers of power in the federal government.
According to him, “Right now, new laws are being developed in state after state – not to defend the vote, but to deny it; not only to suppress the vote, but to sabotage it; not to strengthen or protect our democracy, but because the former president lost,” he explained.
As Biden delivers another important address on voting rights in the United States on Tuesday, he will continue to build on his previous remarks.
In Atlanta, Vice President Kamala Harris and Vice President Joe Biden will push for the passage of two voting rights initiatives that face formidable obstacles in the United States Senate: the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, both of which have bipartisan support.
The issue of voting rights has taken center stage after hopes of passing Vice President Joe Biden’s sweeping domestic policy agenda were dashed by the opposition of Senator Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia.
Biden’s sweeping domestic policy agenda was thwarted by Manchin’s opposition. So far, Republican resistance has prevented passage of the law in the evenly divided chamber, where Democrats lack the 60 votes required to override a filibuster by the minority party.
Manchin has regained control over voting rights legislation, which he supports in large measure once more. However, his resistance to the repeal of the filibuster has compelled Democrats to consider alternative options, such as drafting an exception to the rules for specific legislation to get it through the Senate.
The Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, has stated that a vote on lowering the filibuster rules will be scheduled no later than January 17, which is Martin Luther King Day in the United States.
Biden has come under intense pressure from civil rights groups and voting rights supporters who are dissatisfied with his handling of the matter, which they believe is vital to the president’s legacy.
Biden has refused to back down. Indeed, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a coalition of Georgia-based voting rights organizations told Biden and Harris not to bother visiting the state unless they offered a specific strategy for moving forward.
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In a statement to reporters this week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki stated that Vice President Biden planned to emphasize the “immediate urgency to pass legislation to defend our constitutional right to vote and the integrity of our elections.”
President of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Spencer Overton hopes that Vice President Joe Biden will use his bully pulpit to explain why passing federal voting rights legislation is so critical to combating the lies and conspiracies that are undermining public confidence in the nation’s political system.
“Those deceptions have actual ramifications,” he explained. As we saw a year ago on January 6, they can be visual, but they can also be silent, stopping normal folks from engaging in our democracy and exercising their right to vote.
“This is the most critical piece of legislation currently before Congress,” he continued. “There’s simply no point in waiting any longer.” “Now is the time to act.”