It did not come as a surprise that when Joe Biden delivered his pre-midterm pep talk to the nation on Nov. 2, he avoided the tone and theatrics for which the White House was slammed when he last addressed the people. This time was more Uncle Joe and less Uncle Benito. No ominous red backdrop, no Marines, no screeching about “MAGA Republicans” – though they did get an honorable mention. That said, Mr. Biden was still flogging the proverbial dead horse as he warned once again about the threat to democracy posed, presumably, by Republicans and everyone who votes for them.
The chief executive’s inspiring presence has not been in great demand among Democrats hoping to retain or win seats in Congress this year. Thus, Wednesday’s speech was, it seems, Biden’s last chance to boost the Democratic Party as a whole before the dust settles in polling stations across the country next week.
When one has failed in every policy area that affects the voters and, because of that, one’s party is looking at the prospect of a serious drubbing, what does one tell millions of people who are about to cast their ballots? Biden opted for a two-pronged approach: First, don’t mention policy or legislation at all, and tell everyone none of that matters because this election is only about preserving democracy. Second, reinterpret recent history on the fly, blaming one’s political opponents for all the things of which one’s own party members and supporters have been guilty.
Democracy in the Eye of the Beholder
The whole speech was a less-than-convincing eulogy to that apparently still undefinable system of government known as democracy. America, though, is not a democracy; it is a republic. Would people on the political left prefer to call it a democratic republic? Most of them probably would, but North Korea calls itself a democratic republic; the now-defunct communist East Germany called itself a democratic republic. There is a lesson here, and it is that when left-wingers start obsessing over the word “democracy,” things are not going to end well. The political left has a very well-documented history of using this word as a cover for autocratic systems that punish dissent as well as any desire for individual liberty.
To leftists, democracy appears to mean that state of equilibrium reached when everyone votes the way they are instructed. No doubt, the Stasi – the secret police of the former German Democratic Republic – spent most of its time tracking down those people it considered a threat to democracy. North Korea’s Kim Jong Un would doubtless describe his critics (the ones who are still alive) as threats to democracy.
The list of things Mr. Biden decried was predictable: mobs, political violence, voter suppression, and not accepting the outcomes of elections. Still, any objective viewer would surely have suspected that, when the commander-in-chief mentioned mobs, he was speaking only about the thousands of Trump supporters who gathered around Capitol Hill on Jan. 6, 2021. A relatively small number of those present that day displayed anything that could have been described as “mob” behavior. The rest of them – maybe 99% of them – were marching to protest what they considered a stolen election. What greater demonstration of democracy could there be than publicly protesting an election result one earnestly believes was rigged – regardless of whether that belief is accurate or misguided?
Certainly, one can assume Mr. Biden was not referring to actual mobs of left-wing activists who burned and looted their way across several American cities in 2020. When he spoke of political violence, Biden probably was not referring to the shooting of Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana by a Bernie Sanders supporter who, doubtless, would have killed Scalise and several other Republicans at a 2017 congressional baseball practice had he not been stopped. It was unlikely Biden was referring to the vicious assault on Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and his wife by an angry leftist mob just a block away from the White House.
As for voter suppression, it is difficult to prove one’s case when the numbers don’t support it. Mr. Biden noted, indeed, that in early voting this year, record turnouts are being recorded. In the 1987 movie The Princess Bride, the character Vizzini frequently describes situations as “inconceivable.” Inigo Montoya, one of the good guys, at one point tells Vizzini: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Substitute “suppression,” and today’s Democrats could benefit from the same advice. Voter suppression is not much of a threat to democracy if it results in more people voting.
The Real Threat to Democracy
Election denier has become a favorite term among Democrats, but Biden and other members of his party have focused only on the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election. Yet the Democratic Party has quite the Hall of Fame for election deniers: former Vice President Al Gore, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and wannabe Georgia Governor Stacey Abrams. That’s without mentioning the many Democrats in Congress who, on Jan. 6, 2017, objected to the certification of Electoral College votes from a long list of states. The Russia collusion investigation was, at its heart, about not accepting the result of the 2016 election. The two impeachments of Donald Trump were about rejecting that result. We know this because several Democrats vowed to impeach Trump even before he took office.
To this day, it is very likely that most Democrat voters, if asked, would swear the 2000 presidential election was “stolen” from Gore and that the 2016 election was “stolen” from Clinton. Are all those people a threat to democracy then? No, of course they are not. If questioning an election result is prohibited, then there is no democracy.
If Mr. Biden’s speech moves the needle at all among American voters, it will likely be away from his party, as we have all heard this refrain before. Tone deaf is hardly adequate to describe the address. It was, when all is said and done, a vacuous and hypocritical appeal to be on guard against a threat many would say Mr. Biden and his party colleagues have created and fostered over the past two years. The surest way to kill democracy, after all, does not begin at the ballot box; it begins when the party in power actively works to suppress free speech and the fair and open exchange of ideas and information. The real threat to democracy comes from those who brand views and even facts they don’t like as “disinformation.” After all, a vote cast by a citizen who has been allowed only to read or hear the state-approved narrative is not a statement of democracy, but an instrument of tyranny.
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