Taking On Donald Trump Is President Biden’s Difficult Call

Republicans in many states are promoting efforts to influence future elections by installing sympathetic leaders in local elected positions, and they are supporting for elective office some of those who participated in the insurgency.

Taking On Donald Trump Is President Biden's Difficult Call - SurgeZirc US
Taking On Donald Trump Is President Biden's Difficult Call

President Joe Biden’s calling is to take on former President Donald Trump, even if it is not the fight he sought.

In a visceral speech Thursday about the horrors of the Jan. 6 insurgency that sought to overthrow his 2020 election victory, Biden positioned himself as a defender of American democracy.

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Trump’s refusal to accept the reality of his defeat spawned a conspiracy that came perilously close to destroying the nation’s government system and is still reverberating through society a year later.

“I did not seek this fight, brought to this Capitol one year ago today, but I will not shrink from it either. I will stand in this breach. I will defend this nation. And I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy,” Biden said in his 25-minute address from Statuary Hall.

Even according to Biden, his presidency has been shaped by and in response to his predecessor.

After watching Trump praise some of the white supremacists at a violent protest in Charlottesville in 2017, the former vice president decided to reenter public life to battle for the “soul of America” at the age of 75 and while grieving the recent death of his adult son.

In a contentious 2020 Democratic primary, Biden defeated younger and more popular candidates on the promise that he was the most capable of unseating Trump. And he was sworn in just two weeks after the violent insurgency because he persuaded Americans that he could put an end to a turbulent four years.

In his remarks on Thursday, Biden did not once mention the former president by name. He did, however, deliver zingers and reprimands aimed squarely at Trump and the party that has increasingly modeled itself after him.

Trump, according to Biden, is a defeated former president whose “bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy.”

He refuted Trump’s “big lie”, three of them, in fact, and efforts to cast doubt on the outcome of an election that even the former president’s own attorney general and judicial nominees determined to be fair and free of significant misconduct.

He mocked those who attacked law enforcement and broke into the Capitol, as well as the man who inspired them to do so. “You can’t love your country if you don’t win,” Biden said.

“I’m tired of talking about Donald Trump. I don’t want to talk about him anymore,” he said four weeks into his presidency.

But, in the last year, Trump has transformed himself from twice-impeached pariah to self-styled president-in-exile, with a stronger grip on the Republican Party than when he left office.

Trump has launched an aggressive campaign to oust the few Republicans willing to condemn him from his party. And he has amassed a war chest in preparation for retaking the presidency in 2024.

It’s a conundrum for the president: Biden is often at his best when he takes on Trump, but talking about him elevates him in the national conversation.

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However, there is a parallel effort underway to change how elections are conducted, which could foreshadow a very different dynamic in a contested election the next time.

Republicans in many states are promoting efforts to influence future elections by installing sympathetic leaders in local elected positions, and they are supporting for elective office some of those who participated in the insurgency.

Democrats, for their part, are pushing voting changes that would undo the GOP’s efforts while enshrining other long-standing Democratic priorities in law.

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