Here
and
Now

opinions

Biden warns U.S. democracy threatened, but how can he save it?

28 Comments
By COLLEEN LONG and ZEKE MILLER
Biden Defending Democracy
In this Jan. 6, 2021, photo, insurrections loyal to President Donald Trump try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington. Photo: AP file

President Joe Biden is finding it’s easier to call out attacks on democracy than it is to stop them.

His fundamental rationale for running for president was that America’s democratic traditions were in jeopardy. Now, 20 months into his presidency, the dangers are worse, Biden’s warnings are more dire -- and the limits of his own ability to fix the problem are clearer.

Former President Donald Trump continues to stoke the baseless claim the 2020 election was stolen, and even now advocates for the results in certain battleground states to be decertified even though the falsehood has been rejected by dozens of courts and his own attorney general. The belief has taken deep root in the Republican Party, with dozens of candidates insisting Trump was right.

Never in the country’s history have elections taken place in a climate where one party has so frontally questioned the integrity of the electoral process and actively sought to undermine confidence in it.

“We're in an unprecedented situation here, because Biden's predecessor has shown a flagrant disregard for the Constitution of the United States, and now others are following that path,” said Princeton historian Sean Wilentz, who was among a group invited to the White House recently to put today's challenges in historical context. “It could be dangerous.”

Biden has found, even with the megaphone of the White House, how difficult it is to counter the Trump-inspired narrative and the millions of Americans who believe it. Trump allies have been going around the country peddling lies about the 2020 election and conspiracy theories about voting machines, while Republican candidates running for office this year have repeated his lies to their supporters –- messaging that has reached a broad audience.

Every U.S. president swears to “preserve, protect and defend” the U.S. Constitution, but even in ordinary times there is no playbook for safeguarding it. Biden took that oath as the nation was facing challenges unmatched since perhaps the U.S. Civil War, in the view of some historians.

In a speech earlier this month at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, Biden described democracy as “under assault” and pledged that it was the work of his presidency to defend it. But he also said the solution had to be bigger than him, that he can’t turn back what he sees as a years-long backslide in American political norms on his own.

“For a long time, we’ve told ourselves that American democracy is guaranteed. But it’s not,” he said. “We have to defend it, protect it, stand up for it - each and every one of us.”

Has Biden himself done enough?

His efforts at persuasion don’t seem to have produced any significant shift in public opinion. His push for voting rights legislation in Congress has for the most part fallen short.

Beyond the president's increasingly drastic warnings, White House officials point to the administration’s efforts to push voting rights safeguards through Congress and to their support for the Electoral Count Act, which would patch ambiguities exploited by Trump and his allies.

The Department of Justice is prosecuting those who violently stormed the Capitol. More than 870 people have been charged and more than 400 convicted.

The administration also has sounded the alarm about domestic extremist groups. There's an increasing overlap with politically-fueled violence, as a growing number of ardent Trump supporters seem ready to strike back against the FBI or others they consider going too far in investigating the former president. And the National Security Council has developed a whole-of-government strategy to counter domestic violent extremism, which U.S. intelligence officials have called the top threat to homeland security.

While voters ranked threats to democracy as the most important issue ahead of the midterm elections, according to an NBC News poll late last month, the conspiracy theories pushed by Trump and his allies have succeeded in sowing doubts about the integrity of U.S. elections in a large swath of the population.

Two-thirds of Republicans believe Biden wasn’t legitimately elected president, according to an AP-NORC poll. They believe that votes were switched, or voting machines were corrupted en masse, or that fake ballots were cast in favor of Biden because pandemic-era policies made voting too easy.

Trump-backed candidates are winning primaries and some will make it to Congress. In the states, nearly 1 in 3 Republican candidates for offices that play a role in overseeing, certifying or defending elections supported overturning the results of the 2020 presidential race.

Candidates have signaled a new willingness to simply refuse to accept the results of their election if they lose. And election workers across the country are getting death threats and are harassed online, pushing many to just resign.

“We are very clearly playing with fire with some of the new tactics, allowing them to proliferate around the country,” said Matthew Weil, the executive director of our Democracy Program at the Bipartisan Policy Center think tank. “It’s: ‘If my candidate loses, I’m going to drag it out as long as possible. I can cut the legs out from the person who beat me from taking office.’ That’s a new feature and it’s pretty dangerous. We can’t have an election system where people aren’t willing to lose.”

Checking the antidemocratic forces within Trumpism is not just a policy aim, it's a political endeavor as well, and that clouds the picture.

Biden aides say his best tool to try to preserve democracy is his use of the bully pulpit to make clear to voters that they play a vital role in participating in the electoral process and deciding whom to put into positions of influence.

He isn’t the only one sounding the alarm. The special congressional committee investigating the 2021 Capitol insurrection has delivered the same message, as have election officials in states across the country, historians and other lawmakers.

Administration allies say Biden’s efforts have resonated with voters, particularly as Trump’s behavior in late 2020 and early 2021 has been cast into stark relief by the Jan. 6 committee.

But the president's remarks have largely been dismissed by Republicans unwilling to break with Trump.

Former Vice President Mike Pence, whom Trump supporters threatened to hang on Jan. 6 and who hid in a secure location beneath the building as the masses hunted him in the halls, decried Biden's comments after the Philadelphia speech.

“Never before in the history of our nation has a president stood before the American people and accused millions of his own countrymen of being a ‘threat to this country,’” Pence said in remarks to conservatives.

Former U.N. ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called Biden “the most condescending president of my lifetime.”

The struggle the nation is facing goes beyond political parties, though. And “unless and until enough people fight for, protect and build our democracy, the fever we see today will continue,” said Melody Barnes, head of the University of Virginia Karsh Institute of Democracy.

The closest parallel, historians say, has been the Civil War era, when war broke out after Southern states wouldn’t recognize Abraham Lincoln had been elected president. Following the end of fighting, there was a continued refusal to accept the rule of law during Reconstruction, as deep racism and violence proliferated, resulting eventually in the Jim Crow era.

At critical moments, U.S. leaders have taken a stand to protect the nation from itself. George Washington left office to ensure future leaders would willingly walk away, too. Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon after Watergate -- a wildly unpopular move in 1974 but one that has since been viewed more as an effort to push the country past a national nightmare.

Biden, at a summit this past week on countering hate-fueled violence, talked about how good he felt years ago when he worked successfully with Republicans in the Senate to get the Voting Rights Act extended. “And I thought, well, you know, hate can be defeated,” he said.

“But it only hides,” he said with a sigh. “And when given any oxygen, it comes out from under the rocks.”

© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.


28 Comments

Comments have been disabled You can no longer respond to this thread.

The extreme right are the most dangerous to the US.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Almost the entire Republican Party has given up on democracy - and the freedoms and rights outlined in our Constitution...

Fascism and authoritarianism has taken hold - they refuse to concede they lost in a fair election, instead spreading outrageous conspiracy theories that have been thrown out of court over 60 times...where they are also forced to admit "this is not a fraud case"....

Next they turn to violence, with more and more Repub pols using religious-themed rhetoric, urging a "war" on the non-believers...

I'm not optimistic this will end well - when they lose again in 2022 and 24, expect large-scale violence...

Repub political leaders have the power to turn this around - repudiate Trump and his faux Christian nationalism....call it what it is, a racist cult that wants to install the cult leader as President for life, no different from Russia, China, and Iran...

But they won't - because to them remaining in power is more important than saving our country...

0 ( +6 / -6 )

The extreme right are the most dangerous to the US.

If that were even remotely true, Republicans wouldn't be winning governorships, mayorships, the House, and looking like they could possibly take the Senate as well.

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

Republicans, or most of them, are not the extreme right, except for a few crazies.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

LOL.

he cant do anything.he cant order to people what they must think,how they must live,what they must to do.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Republicans, or most of them, are not the extreme right, except for a few crazies.

There you go. You just made my argument for me.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

bass4funk

no, you do not get it. The extreme right are not members of the Republican party. A few crazies in the party. The Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, QAnon, Three Percenters, white supremacists, and “sovereign citizens.” 

Far-Right Extremism in the US: A Threat No Longer Ignored

0 ( +5 / -5 )

More evidence that the former Republican Party is now the party of Sore Losers and fairy tale spinners....

Twelve Republican candidates running for November's midterms declined to say whether they would accept their election results, according to a survey from The Washington Post.

The Post surveyed candidates in 19 of the most competitive races across the country, asking: "Will you accept the results of your election?"

Only seven GOP nominees said they would accept the outcomes of their races, while another 12 either refused to commit or didn't respond.

Out of the 19 Democratic candidates asked, eighteen said they would accept the outcome. 

https://www.yahoo.com/news/12-gop-candidates-refuse-theyll-235707288.html

This is how you destroy democracy....

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

no, you do not get it.

Of course, I do get it, I am a conservative.

The extreme right are not members of the Republican party.

Again, I agree with you, the few idiots that are racist and call for a race war are to be taken as seriously as "Code Pink."

A few crazies in the party.

Well, you can say the same for the Democrats, they used to be for the working man, blue collar, but not anymore, they are now morphed into the party for the mega-rich and powerful elite, led by radical socialist progressives, not all, but a few with loud voices.

Far-Right Extremism in the US: A Threat No Longer Ignored

As with the extreme left, and as I have stated earlier, if people thought that the Republicans overall are a serious threat, they wouldn't be retaking the House and quite possibly the Senate.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

The threat to democracy from the stolen election crowd is very serious.

These people regard the US as a banana republic.

Some believers in the stolen election/banana republic are confident of wins in November but they haven’t outlined why they think these elections will be clean and therefore legitimate.

Perhaps they could tell us.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The threat to democracy from the stolen election crowd is very serious. 

That’s what the left echoed in 2016 as well.

These people regard the US as a banana republic. 

77% of the nation thinks we are now in a banana republic.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

That’s what the left echoed in 2016 as well

Trump claimed mass voter fraud in 2016. He claimed millions of illegals voted and deprived him of winning the popular vote. I don’t remember Clinton doing that. She whined about interference but Trump went far, far deeper.

What makes you think these upcoming elections will be clean?

I can’t seem to get an answer to this.

Any takers?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Trump claimed mass voter fraud in 2016. He claimed millions of illegals voted and deprived him of winning the popular vote. I don’t remember Clinton doing that.

Clinton as well as many other Democrats called and challenged his legitimacy as well as many of the liberal media pundits and for 5 years claiming it was the Russians that got him elected

She whined about interference but Trump went far, far deeper. 

Well, no the Democrats went Deeper by launching fake Russian collusion based on a faulty salacious and unverified dossier, and witch hunt and tried to get the former President impeached and convicted, he got convicted and acquitted-twice

What makes you think these upcoming elections will be clean? 

Intuition, and the fact that the growing majority have had enough of this. Even the Senate is looking a lot better for the GOP and if they can get that, the majority of this serious nightmare will come to its much-needed end.

I can’t seem to get an answer to this. 

You always do, and just now did....again.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Hillary Clinton conceded her campaign, unlike Trump. She never claimed the election was a fraud. He didn't organize a hate campaign and have her supporters invade the Capitol Building on the day the final election results were being announced. Nor did she file more than 200 fraud cases.

Hillary Clinton was never impeached, twice.

Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election

https://www.justice.gov/archives/sco/file/1373816/download

Many were arrested and sentenced.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Trump is under FBI investigation for removing classified papers which he now claims were nothing more than news cuttings.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

What makes you think these upcoming elections will be clean? 

intuition

Oh dear.

Intuition nowhere near good enough an answer when we are talking about mass voter fraud. Intuition can very often be very wrong. Remember your intuition about Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020?

Don’t trust intuition. Particularly on matters as serious as this.

and the fact that the growing majority have had enough of this

Not important if the elections they vote in are fixed.

Does anyone in the stolen election/banana republic camp have a serious answer?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Election workers have already received death threats. The problem will be finding enough counters.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

JimizoToday  11:24 am JST

I don’t remember Clinton doing that. She whined about interference but Trump went far, far deeper.

wallaceToday  11:52 am JST

Hillary Clinton conceded her campaign, unlike Trump. She never claimed the election was a fraud. 

Intriguing on the day of the Queen's funeral the obsession with Trump from across the pond:

Hillary Clinton says the 2016 election was ‘stolen’ from her

https://finance.yahoo.com/video/hillary-clinton-says-2016-election-011733240.html

Oh--and Russian collusion . . .

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Hillary Clinton conceded her campaign,

That wasn’t the issue, the issue was that she and the Democrats and the media they could peddling that Trump was an illegitimate president for five years, which sparked the entire Russian collusion.

Hillary Clinton was never impeached, twice.

and Trump was acquitted twice, it just didn’t work out for the Democrats the way they wanted.

Trump is under FBI investigation

Well, it seems now that some of the documents might be under attorney-client privilege in that investigations on hold until November or maybe even longer depending.

.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The left are the ones going off the deep end...and you all know it

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Intuition nowhere near good enough an answer when we are talking about mass voter fraud.

We have been over this so many times. You believe what you want about about the issue and so will I. I am not trying to change your opinion on the matter, and you are definitely not going to change mine on the matter as well.

Intuition can very often be very wrong. Remember your intuition about Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020? 

and at the same time, I was right back in 2011 and 2014, and it looks like déjà vu is going to hit the shores again this November and this is most definitely a serious matter. Crime, inflation, gas and food prices, the open borders, education, wokeness. 77% of the country, feeling something very different from what Joe Biden is, apparently feeling, not good for him or his fellow Democrats.

Does anyone in the stolen election/banana republic camp have a serious answer?

I just gave you another one.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Hillary Clinton conceded her campaign, unlike Trump. She never claimed the election was a fraud.

Oh, Yes she did! Do your homework

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Exactly

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/hillary-clinton-trump-is-an-illegitimate-president/2019/09/26/29195d5a-e099-11e9-b199-f638bf2c340f_story.html

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

The left are the ones going off the deep end...and you all know it

Election integrity isn’t a matter of left or right.

People claimed that the 2020 election was stolen through mass voter fraud. This is an incredibly serious matter.

The only answer we’ve had so far to the question of why this utter disgrace and affront to democracy will not be repeated in November is basically ‘because I think so’.

Very disturbing. People are not treating this with the seriousness it deserves.

and at the same time, I was right back in 2011 and 2014

Yes, your intuition led you to get some things right and some things wrong. You proved my point - don’t trust your intuition, particularly on matters as serious as this.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Biden warns U.S. democracy threatened, but how can he save it?

Is this a joke? Nope. It’s a distraction.

Biden was Vice President when Obama allowed his DOJ to charge NOBODY in the criminal HSBC bankster case which were busted (after an extensive FBI investigation)for money laundering for drug dealers and arms shipments and more

Oh wait!

Was I supposed to forget about the criminal elite globalists and focus on Trump, racial and LBQ whatever stuff?

Dang it.

I guess I got distracted

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

And it's bye bye America, hello China.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Election integrity isn’t a matter of left or right.

it shouldn’t be, but for some reason it is. Stacy Abrams called her election illegitimate, and that it was stolen from her and she continues to believe that that it was white racism that denied her the governorship. 

People claimed that the 2020 election was stolen through mass voter fraud. This is an incredibly serious matter. 

Yes, it is and unless the Republicans control both chambers, it’s going to be hard to really see, or discuss it further, but they can do a lot, even when they control the house, so we shall see.

Very disturbing. People are not treating this with the seriousness it deserves. 

Well, you can say the opposite about the people that do take it seriously and want to talk about it.

Yes, your intuition led you to get some things right and some things wrong.

Admitted, and on this one, this November, I know I’ll be right.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

@Bass

Sorry, you’re just not getting this. No point continuing here.

Does anyone who believes the 2020 election was stolen through mass election. fraud have any good reason to believe these upcoming elections will be clean and therefore legitimate?

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites