Home » Trump ‘Willing To Sacrifice Democracy,’ Biden Declares In Forceful Speech

Trump ‘Willing To Sacrifice Democracy,’ Biden Declares In Forceful Speech

President Joe Biden tore into former President Donald Trump in a speech Friday, describing his likely Republican opponent as a wannabe authoritarian who is willing to destroy a quarter-millennium of American democracy to hold on to power.

“As we begin this election year, we must be clear: Democracy is on the ballot,” Biden said at Montgomery County Community College outside of Philadelphia. “Your freedom is on the ballot.”

Though Biden has repeatedly delivered speeches warning about the threat the Trump-led Republican Party poses to democratic institutions, Friday’s speech was noteworthy for the sheer number of direct attacks on Trump, whom he has tried to avoid focusing on for the first half of his presidency. He noted the former president’s recent use of rhetoric echoing Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler and his expressed desire for “revenge,” and he suggested Trump was not only a threat to Americans’ voting rights but also their broader freedoms. He called his predecessor “sick” for laughing about the October 2022 attack on former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul.

“Donald Trump’s campaign is about him, not America, not you,” Biden said. “Donald Trump’s campaign is obsessed with the past, not the future. He’s willing to sacrifice our democracy to put himself in power.”

Though the speech’s timing may seem obvious (it was scheduled for Saturday, the third anniversary of the U.S. Capitol attack, but was moved up because of an approaching winter storm), the location was also important. Biden contrasted the sacrifices made by Gen. George Washington’s troops at nearby Valley Forge and Washington’s decision two decades later to allow for a peaceful presidential transfer of power to Trump’s own refusal to accept his reelection defeat.

“Donald Trump exhausted every legal avenue available to him to overturn the election. Every one,” Biden said. “But the legal path just took Trump back to the truth: that I had won the election and he was a loser.”

Trump’s campaign responded to Biden’s speech by claiming the “radical left Democrats” are the ones who pose a threat to democracy, arguing that the multiple investigations of Trump’s role in the insurrection, his handling of classified documents and his hush-money payments to a porn star were all part of a liberal plot to bring him down.

“The bottom line today is that Joe Biden has given up on running an issues-based campaign for 2024,” Jason Miller, a top adviser to Trump, wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “Rather than help those suffering from Bidenomics or our porous southern border, Biden plans on weaponizing government against his leading political opponent.”

Biden delivered the speech even as faith in American democracy, battered by Trump’s authoritarianism, years of congressional dysfunction and decades of growing economic inequality, was at all-time lows. A recent poll from Gallup found just 28% of Americans were satisfied with the way democracy was working in the United States, a record low.

Many Democrats have been eager for Biden to begin defining the 2024 race as a referendum on the choice between himself and Trump, hoping the contrast will remind voters of Trump’s deficiencies and lift Biden’s weak approval ratings. (The two men are essentially tied in public polling.) Biden’s campaign has said it hopes rhetorically raising the stakes of the election will engage tuned-out voting blocs that have drifted away from the president.

The speech comes as Biden’s reelection message shifts from trying to sell “Bidenomics” ― a slogan that ended up being derided by Democrats and doing little to concretely improve the president’s image ― and toward a focus on Trump and the threat his authoritarian tendencies pose to the country. The campaign released a television ad touching on similar themes earlier this week.

“I refuse to believe that in 2024, we Americans will choose to walk away from what has made us the greatest nation in the history of the world: freedom, liberty,” Biden said. “Democracy is still a sacred cause.”


January 2024