President Joe Biden delivered remarks in Philadelphia at the National Constitution Center about the Democrat-coined “Big Lie” and the Republicans’ drive to enact stricter voter laws. For a few days leading up to the much-anticipated July 13 event, pundits, White House aides, and Press Secretary Jen Psaki had laid out the speech section by section for early consumption.
The Big Lead-Up
The theme of the big lead-up was clear: making a “moral case” for aborting the new voter laws in an increasing number of states. Democrats claim these deter people of color from casting a vote, while Republicans say they are trying to ensure all votes are legitimate and counted. Psaki described the situation Biden faced as “the worst challenge to our democracy since the Civil War.” What everyone seems to agree on is that a battle is warranted.
In preparation for the presidential visit to the City of Brotherly Love, news outlets printed or parroted paragraph after paragraph of what Biden would say. CNN published remarks from a “White House official,” and Psaki read verbatim what appeared to be carve-outs from a 1,100-word report.
One such passage:
“Biden will decry Republican obstruction to a sweeping election reform bill that Democrats argue is a necessary counter to state-level efforts to restrict voting access. The president will stress that the work to pass that legislation, the For the People Act, as well as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act ‘are only beginning.’”
Democrats on The Hill are angry for several reasons, but the sorest point of late is the clotheslining by the Senate of the For the People Act. A nervous House now works to present the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in an airtight fashion to move to the Senate by fall. Liberty Nation’s Kelli Ballard briefly covered the drama unfolding:
“The For the People Act was created, in part, to counter a number of states changing their voting laws, which President Biden had likened to Jim Crow. Democrats have suggested the new laws are designed to limit black voting, while states including Georgia and Iowa say the moves are intended to boost electoral security.”
Still seething from the Supreme Court decision that Arizona’s voting rules are constitutional, Democrats will likely come out swinging an emotional battle-ax in this voting skirmish.
The Red Scare
The incendiary 2020 election prompted lawmakers in 17 states to act: Nearly 28 election laws have been passed in a few short months. Commonalities include producing credible identification, prohibiting political parties from sending unrequested applications for mail-in ballots to voters, adjusting voting times, and increasing criminal penalties for election interference.
Biden Finally Speaks
Biden’s remarks were the shot across the bow in a public pressure campaign. And it all fell neatly into place, coinciding with an orchestrated walk-out by several Texas state lawmakers on July 12 over their latest assembly decisions on voter laws. Republicans sent out calls to arrest or detain the fleeing Democrats, before voting to advance the state election reform legislation in their absence – on the very day of Biden’s speech.
From reading between the lines, as was necessary, a message materialized: Biden is drawing a line in the sand and daring Republicans to cross. The president made no bones about his fire-and-brimstone moral outrage: “Stand up, for God’s sake. Have you no shame?” Despite his vehement messaging, Texas’ decision indicates some states will prove defiant.
Biden’s remarks, about 30 minutes’ worth, were a rehash of talking points from Jan. 20 until today about how the 2020 election was fair, how vote recounts gave him the victory, and how former President Donald Trump was “selfish” and “un-American.” He also called for Congress to pass the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, saying he would sign them and “watch the whole world see it.”
What was left to say that aides, anonymous staffers, and Psaki had not already fed to every national, state, county, local, and elementary school news outlet? Nothing. Although the president did emphasize this concise and divisive message: “Are you on the side of truth or lies, autocracy or democracy?”
Read more from Sarah Cowgill.