President Joe Biden finally said the words Americans gobsmacked by the MAGA-fication of American politics have been waiting to hear: “Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal.”
He’s right. And I’d argue a sizable majority of Americans, including many Republicans, know he’s right.
It’s not normal to deny the results of a free and fair election. It’s not normal to incite an attack on the U.S. Capitol and then side with the attackers once justice is meted out. It’s not normal to demonize any government institution or official – from the Department of Justice to the FBI to a certain vice president – who doesn’t kowtow to one leader’s demands.
‘Blind loyalty to a single leader … is fatal to democracy’
“Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” Biden said Thursday night outside Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, later adding that “blind loyalty to a single leader … is fatal to democracy.”
He’s right. Any honest, rational person can see he’s right, and many have been saying the same things for years. But never have Americans heard this tough love delivered so clearly and so directly from someone as powerful as the U.S. president.
Biden’s speech will surely bring untold wailing and teeth-gnashing from the right. There’s an argument that, at a moment when Biden’s political standing is on the upswing, it was a risky speech. But it was, above all else, necessary.
The election denialism, the outlandish-to-the-point-of-being-embarrassing conspiracy theories, the rise of weird weekend MAGA warriors training as if their militia might take on the U.S. military – none of it is normal. It’s dangerous, and it’s about damn time an adult stood up and said, “Enough.”
This was not a speech targeting all Republicans
Biden made abundantly clear that he’s not talking about ALL Republicans. He specified MAGA Republicans, people enthralled with the former president – the one who has done nothing since leaving office but spin lies aimed at destabilizing our democracy.
“I want to be very clear,” the president said. “Not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans.”
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But, Biden continued: “MAGA Republicans have made their choice. They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos. They live not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies.”
Again, he’s right. No hardcore MAGA devotee will ever see it that way, but anyone with consciousness and a shred of intellectual honesty will.
There is a loud minority in this country addicted to the adrenaline rush of anger, and that addiction is fed daily by the former president. I don’t think they’re reachable, and Biden, by delivering his “That’s Enough With This Malarkey!” speech, clearly doesn’t think so, either.
So why should he stay quiet about a gathering storm? Why should he not try to unite the rest of us – the reachable – around a common goal of protecting democracy from a movement incompatible with our nation’s ideals?
As if to drive Biden’s point home, hecklers tried to interrupt his speech with shouts of “(Expletive) you Biden!”
Biden stopped at one point and said: “They’re entitled to be outrageous. This is a democracy.”
Patriotism vs. lunkheaded antics
That’s the difference, folks. Biden spoke forcefully and honestly about a real threat to democracy, with arms open to reasonable people outside his own party. MAGA hecklers shouted profanities at the president of the United States, in deference to a man who has shown repeatedly he cares nothing about democracy.
It’s seriousness vs. stupidity. Patriotism vs. lunkheaded antics. An adult vs. a child.
You don’t have to love Biden. Heck, many in his own party don’t love him.
And that’s kind of the point. That’s why him saying these things is so important.
Because if you’re a MAGA Republican, you do have to love Donald Trump. You can’t be in his party if you don’t love him. And you show your love by attacking his “enemies,” and his enemies, tragically, are us.
Biden knows that’s not how America should work. So he stood up like an adult and he said it: “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”
Finally, finally, finally.