Image source: The New York Times
On Thursday, President Joe Biden traveled to Philadelphia, delivering his sharpest speech against Republicans.
Over the speech, Biden focused on how they “thrive on chaos,” warning people about their attempts to undermine democracy that could lead to violence.
President Joe Biden delivered his speech at Independence Hall against a red-lit background, setting up a call for a reckoning on a Donald Trump-led movement.
His speech comes ahead of the midterm elections, which helps determine control of Congress.
While Biden’s comments were packaged as an official address, it provided outlines of his election message.
While he attempted to bring optimism about the future of the country, the President also colored his political opponents in a dark light.
Biden claimed that Trump and his followers are threatening the American experiment.
He called out his predecessors minutes after taking the stage and suggested that Americans faced an existential choice in the upcoming elections.
“Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal,” said Biden over the speech.
“Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”
Despite his sentiments, Biden attempted to separate Trump’s loyal followers from the Republican Party as a whole.
President Joe Biden concluded with a more optimistic tone, saying it was up to the voters’ power to control the dark forces brewing in the country.
Biden felt the time was right to speak up against the growing anti-democratic forces building in the country after calling out the Republicans for “MAGA extremism” and “semi-fascism” recently.
Meanwhile, officials maintain that the President’s message wasn’t partisan and was meant to target an extreme wing of the GOP.
Regardless, Biden called on his audiences to go to the polls in November.
Building up to the speech
The last few weeks focused on many campaign pledges that initially seemed unrealistic before signing into law.
The factors building together create a sense in the West Wing that political winds are changing, especially as more Americans have tuned in ahead of the midterm elections.
It also affected the White House, where months of intraparty warfare occurred, a resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic happened, and crises emerged that many viewed outside their control turned their way.
Biden himself was affected by the sense of gloom that hung over the West Wing for months.
The shifting winds also coincided with Trump’s re-emergence.
Republican politicians and candidates started running campaigns on false grounds of fraudulent elections.
With midterm campaign season kicking into high gear, more factors appeared with enough ammunition for Biden to share his thoughts publicly.
“The President felt that this was an appropriate time before the traditional campaign season begins next week to lay out what he sees at stake, not for any individual political party, but for our democracy itself,” said a senior administration official.
Reaction to Biden’s speech
On Friday afternoon, forums popular among white supremacists and far-right extremists started pouring with posts calling for the assassination of Biden.
The President was not alone as Jewish administration officials like Attorney General Merrick Garland, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas were marked as potential targets.
According to documents that covered some of the threats, posts declaring civil war also started emerging.
A threat alert from Site Intelligence Group was released on Friday, alerting law enforcement agencies and others.
The group tracks online extremism activity, and after Biden’s speech, they issued several threat alerts detailing calls for violence.
The potential threats were posted on online forums rife with Proud Boys and neo-Nazis among other extremist groups.
“Users on several far-right and ultranationalist venues made violent threats against President Joe Biden following his speech addressing political extremism on September 1, 2022,” an alert said.
“Users advocated for Biden to be murdered and predicted violence if he continues speaking about the topic.”
The White House defended Biden’s speech, citing that it was meant to stand for democracy and denounce political violence.