In a primetime televised address Thursday night in Philadelphia, US President Joe Biden is set to address what White House officials call “the battle for the soul of the nation.”
In the speech to Independence Hall, where the country’s Declaration of Independence was debated and passed, and where the Constitution was written by the Founding Fathers, the 46th US President will explain “how our rights and freedoms are still under attack.” And it will make it clear who is fighting for those rights, fighting for those freedoms, and fighting for our democracy,” according to the White House.
“It’s striking that President Biden is going out there and giving a speech, which is kind of an attempt to paint a big picture of where we are as a nation,” the statement said. prominent neocon political analyst Bill Kristol.
Biden is expected to make the speech — with the midterm elections about two months away in a highly polarized political environment — “not just a political speech, but really a deeper speech to all Americans,” Kristol said in an interview with VOA. “I think it’s appropriate for the president to say, ‘Let’s take a step back here and be careful about what we’re risking. And let’s be thoughtful about how we conduct our politics.
Brendan Nyhan, professor of government at Dartmouth University, predicts that Biden will use the speech to “rally his party ahead of the midterm elections that Democrats fear will go pretty badly on their end. But he also calls on Americans to reject anti-democratic forces that have challenged this country’s political system.
“One of those approaches is partisan. The other is consistent with his role as president, heading one of the three branches of government. I hope he can argue for the preservation of our democratic system.
In recent days, Biden has rhetorically battled Republican lawmakers, as well as his predecessor, Donald Trump, and sharply attacked the opposition party’s ethos, calling it “semi-fascism.”
In a speech Monday in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., which focused primarily on gun violence, the president criticized Republican lawmakers who he said warned of “blood in the streets” if Trump is prosecuted.
If the former president is prosecuted for mishandling classified information, “there will be riots in the streets,” US Senator Lindsey Graham predicted Sunday during a Fox News broadcast.
But Walter Shaub, a former director of the US Office of Government Ethics, said on Twitter on Wednesday: “If Trump is not prosecuted, it will mean the government thinks a former president is above the law, because you or I would absolutely be sued for doing what he did.
Trump, who lost to Biden in the 2020 election, is under federal investigation. He could face charges of keeping highly classified documents after leaving office in January 2021 and charges of obstruction of justice, according to legal documents filed by the Justice Department.
A raid of Trump’s estate and private club at Mar-a-Lago in Florida by the Federal Bureau of Investigation prompted threats against bureau agents. A man tried to break into the FBI office in Cincinnati, Ohio, on August 11 before being shot and killed after an hour-long standoff with police.
“It’s sickening to see the new attacks on the FBI, threatening the lives of law enforcement officers and their families for simply enforcing the law and doing their job,” Biden said in his Monday speech in Pennsylvania.
Trump, who is eyeing another presidential race in 2024, has accused the Biden administration and the FBI of targeting him for political reasons. Before that, Republicans hope in November’s midterm elections to wrest control of Congress from Democrats, who control the Senate and House.
It’s unclear if Biden in Thursday night’s speech will mention Trump by name. He accused the former president and his supporters of following an “extreme MAGA philosophy”, choosing “to go back, full of anger, violence, hatred and division”.
MAGA refers to “Make America Great Again”, a slogan Trump popularized in his successful bid for president in 2016.
The stakes are high for Biden’s speech, according to Nyhan, who is also co-founder of Bright Line Watch, a watchdog group monitoring the status of American democracy.
“I believe that American democracy faces the greatest threat it has faced since we became a full-fledged democracy after the civil rights movement. [of the 1960s]. We saw a violent insurgency that tried to overturn a presidential election, and now we see threats of violence in response to efforts to uphold the rule of law,” Nyhan told VOA on Wednesday.
“Americans would be very lucid about what they saw if they saw it in another country. And I think we have to recognize that the threat we see here at home is significant,” he said.
Trump, on his own online media platform, Truth Social, continued this week to falsely insist that he was the real winner of the 2020 election, demanding a new presidential election “immediately” – which does not is not possible under the US Constitution.
“What former President Trump is asking for would be an extra-constitutional measure that would undermine the system of government we have in place, especially since he was defeated in a free and fair election that proved to be free from widespread fraud. which he and his allies falsely claimed,” Nyhan explained. “It is very worrying that a defeated president is calling to be illegally reinstated in power.”
Kristol agreed, saying “it is telling that Trump’s overheated rhetoric throws aside one of our most basic constitutional standards.”
Unlike countries with parliamentary systems, the United States does not have early elections.
“We don’t have votes of confidence where governments fall, presidencies fall,” noted Kristol, who was chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle in the administration of President George HW Bush. “We have a presidential system with a four-year term.”
Trump argued it was justified because the FBI allegedly thwarted its own investigation into incriminating information contained on a laptop of the president’s son, Hunter Biden.
A whistleblower says FBI officials told agents not to investigate the laptop until after the 2020 election, saying the bureau ‘was not going to alter the election result again’, according to the Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican senator, who this week sent a letter to the Justice Department’s Inspector General demanding that immediate action be taken to investigate the FBI’s actions or lack of actions regarding the computer .
“Every credible review, including by numerous judges — many of whom were appointed by Trump himself — has repeatedly and outright rejected the Trump campaign’s claims,” Nyhan said. “There is simply no credible case against winning Joe Biden.”