POLITICAL COMMENTARY - On Sept. 1 of this year, President Joe Biden stood at the podium at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the very place where the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed and delivered a blistering primetime speech aimed at the former president.
It wasn’t carried on the major networks. “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic!” he exclaimed.
“They do not respect the Constitution. They do not believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people. They refuse to accept the results of a free election,” he said.
“They look at the mob that stormed the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, brutally attacking law enforcement, not as insurrectionists who placed a dagger at the throat of our democracy, but … as patriots,” Biden noted. “And they see their … failure to stop a peaceful transfer of power after the 2020 election as preparation for the 2022 and 2024 elections.”
“They’re working right now, as I speak, in state after state to give power to decide elections in America to partisans and cronies, empowering election deniers to undermine democracy itself,” he explained.
This wasn’t a great revelation to the majority of this country or to the world, but to a significant number of Republican loyalists (loyalists to Donald J. Trump), this was blasphemy, treason and or fascism. This of course is coming from those who have been defending Trump through the Robert Mueller investigation, two impeachments, the capital insurrection and now Mara-a-Lago-Gate.
The usual suspects from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to former governor-turned-pundit Mike Huckabee called Biden’s address “pure hate speech.”
And the talking heads over at FauxNews went crazy too, reporting that Joe Biden came to Philadelphia to give the most vicious, hateful, and divisive speech ever delivered by an American president.”
And Trump told a raucous crowd on the campaign trail in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, while stumping for Republican candidates two nights later, “Vilifying 75 million citizens, plus another probably 75 to 150 if we want to be accurate about it, as threats to democracy and enemies of the state… He’s the enemy of the state if you want to know the truth.”
Now of course this is just another of his exaggerations to inflame the MAGA crowd, but it is what it is: a lie from a professional liar. It does however delineate the battle lines of the conflict. While most people are conflict avoidant, choosing to block each other on social media rather than speaking up, the orange guy is riling up the white nationalists and neo-Nazis on Twitter — Biden’s speech said what was on many peoples’ minds — Trump is a danger to this republic. Thank you, President Biden for saying it out loud.
At this point, most of my friends and associates refuse to engage the true believers in the MAGA crowd, believing these Trump loyalists will just dry up and blow away in the southern wind on a parched desert. I’m afraid that this is not how this is going end.
There is even some not so veiled talk of “civil war” in that crowd. Though the Republicans probably have far more guns than the Democrats, I doubt that they would stand a chance against the United States armed forces and National Guard units. What we will see more of is armed idiots shooting up schools and grocery stores in a bid to incite a rebellion. Clearly, the party of “law and order” has been flipped with the MAGA leader himself the chief criminal.
It was none other than radical Malcolm X who presented the proposition in his famous “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech. And it is the challenge of our times that if we want to avoid a civil war there has to be a massive turnout at the ballot box. This means that the conflict between the left and right in America cannot be politely avoided, cannot be excused as impolite conversation at the cocktail party or dinner table. It needs to be addressed straight on. Don’t let them gaslight you. And don’t “step outside to settle it” either.
The blunt force of the law as expressed by the FBI search of Mar-a-largo and the 40-some-odd subpoenas issued to Trump’s associates and the upcoming Jan. 6 Congressional hearings will, in the end, take down the Grifter-in-Chief. We have to believe that, or the whole notion about the “rule of law” will appear as fiction, like the Law and Order TV show.
Do come armed with the facts. Don’t get mired down in the inevitable, What- about-Hilaryisms. Trump did attempt a coup d’état on our own government. Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, Roger Stone and William Barr are all accomplices along with everybody else who has been convicted for the Jan. 6 insurrection. But Donald J. Trump needs to go to jail!
Biden’s speech was cautionary.
“Now, I want to be very clear up front: Not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans. Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology…But there is no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country.”
It is the light of liberty that has led this nation through abolition, the Civil War, suffrage, the Great Depression, two world wars and civil rights; with courage and conviction our nation will come to a new resolve — a resolution to this conflict.
With this one speech, Biden flipped the political narrative of the midterm election from inflation and culture war to a referendum on Trump — a battle that’s been won more than once.
(James Preston Allen, founding publisher of the Los Angeles Harbor Areas Leading Independent Newspaper 1979- to present, is a journalist, visionary, artist and activist. Over the years Allen has championed many causes through his newspaper using his wit, common sense writing and community organizing to challenge some of the most entrenched political adversaries, powerful government agencies and corporations.)