The Signal

Serving the College since 1885

Monday October 3rd

Biden Speech on State of Democracy Generates Controversy

<p><em>President Biden delivered a speech at Independence Hall, in which he directly confronted the “threat” posed by Donald Trump and those who support him. (Office of the President. Posted to </em><a href=";set=a.356649399795363" target=""><em>Facebook</em></a><em> on Sept. 1, 2022)</em></p>

President Biden delivered a speech at Independence Hall, in which he directly confronted the “threat” posed by Donald Trump and those who support him. (Office of the President. Posted to Facebook on Sept. 1, 2022)

By Matthew Kaufman

International Assistant Editor

President Biden gave a prime time speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia to discuss the current state of democracy in the U.S., detailing the threats he believes it is facing. In the speech, he directly addressed the actions of Former President Donald Trump and “MAGA Republicans” related to the 2020 election and threats posed to the upcoming 2022 and 2024 elections. 

“Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” the president said, adding that “not even the majority of Republicans” support Trump’s democratic challenges. 

“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,” he continued.

Biden went on to warn of the increasing threats facing upcoming elections, arguing that the actions of Trump and his supporters represent a fundamental threat to democracy and the rule of law in the U.S.

“Democracy cannot survive when one side believes there are only two outcomes to an election: either they win or they were cheated,” he said. “And that’s where MAGA Republicans are today.”

The speech generated mixed reactions and controversy from the media and public, with some praising Biden’s confrontational tone and others criticizing the politicized nature of the speech.

Almost immediately, the speech stirred disagreement, especially among Republicans, as highlighted in a summary of the controversy by New York Magazine.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the House Minority Leader, said that the president targeted everyday Americans with his words.

“Instead of trying to bring our country together to solve the MANY problems he has created,” McCarthy tweeted, “President Biden has chosen to divide, demean, and disparage his fellow Americans—simply because they disagree with his policies.”

The Washington Post’s Editorial Board agreed, writing in an opinion piece that “you don’t persuade people by scolding or demeaning them, but that’s how the president’s speech landed for many conservatives of goodwill.”

“Mr. Biden was wrong to conflate upholding the rule of law with his own partisan agenda,” the Board continued.

Another controversial choice made by the administration was to include U.S. Marines behind the president as he delivered the speech.

“Whatever you think of this speech, the military is supposed to be apolitical,” Brianna Keilar, a reporter for CNN, tweeted. “Positioning Marines in uniform behind President Biden for a political speech flies in the face of that. It’s wrong when Democrats do it. It’s wrong when Republicans do it.”

An anonymous White House official speaking to the Post defended the use of Marines at the speech.

“The President gave an important speech last night about our democracy and our values, values that our men and women in uniform fight every day to protect,” the official told the paper. “The presence of Marines at the speech was intended to demonstrate the deep and abiding respect the President has for their service to these ideals and the unique role our independent military plays in defending our democracy, no matter which party is in power.”

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain also pushed back in a tweet on the notion that the speech was political or partisan, calling Biden’s remarks “as ‘political’ as Ben Franklin, saying in 1787, that the Framers had given us ‘a Republic, if you can keep it.’”

Biden has been ramping up direct confrontations with Trump in recent months, as the midterms approach and the prospect of another Trump run in 2024 looms. During his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden repeatedly referred to the election as the “battle for the soul of the nation.” With this speech, Biden returned to that rhetoric, with the official title of the address being “Remarks by President Biden on the Continued Battle for the Soul of the Nation.”


This Week's Issue

Issuu Preview