Alan Zendell, September 2, 2022
Last night, President Joe Biden set the tone for the Democrats’ approach to the midterm elections. There was nothing subtle about his message. Democrats are betting that when faced with a choice between the anti-democratic Fascist-like ideology of the MAGA wing of the Republican Party and the core principles laid out by our founders, they’ll realize what is at stake. If anyone listening had any doubt about what that is, they don’t any longer.
What stood out most during the speech wasn’t just its message. We knew ahead of time it would be about saving the soul of America, which Biden defines as the ideas embodied in our Constitution and Declaration of Independence. He laid it out clearly: we’re all created equal with an equal chance to succeed and live a productive, happy life – except, that’s not actually what our founders said, and that’s part of the problem Biden addressed.
In 1779, “we’re all” meant all of us white, male landowners, and the MAGA movement believes that’s still what it means. If you’re female, poor, or not white enough, (we might as well throw in not straight enough,) you don’t have inalienable rights. It was those whose rights MAGA politicians and jurists have been attacking that Biden was speaking to. In 2016, an occasional voice asked why any woman, black, brown, or yellow person, or immigrant would support Trump. But the MAGA folks screamed loud enough about Benghazi and Hillary Clinton’s emails and imagined crimes, that everything else was drowned out.
Democrats, with Biden leading the way, realize the truth about MAGA ideology must be shouted loud and long from every rooftop, and those words must come from on high. That the entire, disparate party got the message is a testimony to Biden’s leadership. It’s been a long time since Democrats pulled together against their common enemy, and I don’t mean Republicans. Biden made that clear, separating MAGA adherents from traditional conservative Republicans.
The Right’s version of Us-Against-Them is MAGA against everyone who hasn’t bent a knee to Trump. Biden stated it the same way, thoughtfully addressing the majority of Republicans as colleagues and fellow Americans he serves as President, and describing the MAGA crowd as their enemy as much as everyone else’s. Savvy politicians like Biden don’t need pollsters and talking heads to tell them trends are swinging away from MAGA extremism back toward basic American values. He can smell the sea change and read the results of the recent special elections that show MAGA ideology losing ground.
There’s much work to be done before MAGA is silenced, its adherents returned to their caves. But Biden, who will turn 80 just after the November election, will give his last ounce of energy if need be to save the soul of our nation, which brings me to what I most noticed about last night’s speech. His enemies love to seize on the remnants of Biden’s lifelong battle against stuttering and claim he’s becoming senile and demented. It can be painful to hear him struggle, at times, but anyone who knows him will tell you he’s as sound as he can be when it comes to tackling problems and putting in long hours.
Last night, we saw and heard a president who passionately believed what he was saying. We know because there was no sign of his lingering stutter. He was smooth and articulate, riding an adrenaline high that comes from knowing you’re on a righteous mission that only you can lead. His face was wrinkled, but his eyes shone, and his voice was loud, strong, and compassionate. Not a self-aggrandizing word, no personal insults, and no need for self-serving lies because he was laying out truths that are plain to see if people wake up and look at what’s happening around them.
When Trump told a national television audience that he loved to “grab women’s pussies” and he was so far above the law he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue with impunity, his devoted army of losers thought it was wonderful. But when Biden appropriately compares MAGA ideology to Fascism he’s accused of being obscene and offensive. As many of us have frequently written, comparing the rise and methodology of Hitler’s Nazi Party in the 1930s to the rise of Trump and MAGA yields a shocking result. They are almost identical.
I’m thankful we have a president who’s as thick-skinned as Harry Truman and visionary as Franklin Roosevelt, and equally unafraid to call things as they are – unlike his predecessor, who reacts like a spoiled five-year-old when he doesn’t get his way. The next ten weeks will be tough, but with Biden leading the way at his best, our democracy has a chance.