During Sunday’s 9/11 memorial, President Joe Biden stated, “It’s not enough to stand up for democracy once a year or every now and then. It’s something we have to do every single day.” It was a not-so-subtle jab at so-called MAGA Republicans on a day that should be all about national unity.
It would be great if the president could understand that even those he disagrees with are an integral part of this democracy. To alienate them is to desecrate democracy, and desecrating democracy is un-American.
It seems like ages ago, but it’s not even two years since Biden branded himself a champion for unity in his inaugural address. Uniting the country is a noble goal — one that most Americans support, our research shows — and a goal that we share. America is as divided as it’s ever been since the 1960s and desperately needs a leader who can help to heal the wounds of political polarization.
Unfortunately, the unity ship officially sailed after Biden likened millions of everyday Americans to extremists who seek the country’s downfall. The president recently took to the podium outside Philadelphia’s Independence Hall against an ominously dark, glowing red backdrop to deliver his “Soul of the Nation” speech, in which he vilified “MAGA Republicans” in an obvious effort to reverse Democrats’ fortunes this fall.
While the title should have given hope to all Americans that unity had finally come, the content of the speech was anything but uniting. Biden should have titled his speech “Splitting the Soul of the Nation.”
Biden has chosen to vilify MAGA Republicans, a term he and his press secretary refuse to define because they know if they did, Americans would easily see its hyper-partisanship. America is a country founded on freedom of speech. We can hold opposing viewpoints yet remain civil with one another.
Biden apparently can’t. The president of the United States sending vitriol to an entire group of people based on their beliefs is detestable and too reminiscent of Jim Crow-era politics we thought were destroyed decades ago. He willfully chose to divide us by alienating and ostracizing a specific group of Americans, and when you divide America, you attack America.
There was no action or provocation by those whom he castigated preceding his remarks. He wasn’t reacting to anything; he just chose the divisive path. In fact, Biden ended up accusing nearly half the nation of doing exactly what he himself is doing.
Countless policy issues are fair game for presidents: health care, energy, economics, foreign policy and immigration, just to name a few, but unfairly calling into question the patriotism of large swaths of the country is unacceptable.
As the national directors of a group dedicated to bringing Americans together around love of country and mutual respect, we found this speech, delivered by the most powerful person in America and the leader of the free world, incredibly disheartening. Any time a president addresses the nation in a prime-time speech, he or she should champion the foundational American values that have made our country what it is today.
But Biden decided he’d rather further divide Americans because he thinks it will help his party politically.
The good news is this tactic may have backfired. Biden’s hate-charged speech “represents a dangerous escalation in rhetoric” and is designed to incite conflict among Americans, said more than 50% of voters surveyed in a Convention of States/Trafalgar Group poll.
What affect will Biden’s trash talk have? Democratic politicians take the lead of the president. And the rhetoric they wield from the bully pulpit guides others in their party. Like clockwork, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement following the president’s speech also vilifying “MAGA Republicans.”
It also elicits a symmetric response from the opposing party. If there was any doubt the political temperature would continue to rise in this country, Biden eliminated it this month. The president’s 180 on American unity as a purely political calculation is an outrage. If he doesn’t reverse course, he’ll completely undercut any moral authority he has, and America will look elsewhere for the leadership it deserves.
Just one day after his speech, Biden claimed he ran for president to restore “decency” and “honor” to the nation and to treat “people with some respect,” but no words can erase his direct and deliberate marginalization of the American people.
Barrington Martin II, a former Democratic congressional candidate in Georgia, and Gabriel Nadales, a former Antifa activist in California, are co-national directors of Our America.