I am a lifelong Democrat. I even worked for Joe Biden at one time. Thus, nothing that has happened in America since January 2021 has surprised me. But the president’s speech in Philadelphia last week marked a new low for America and a new low for a party that I once idolized.
To me, the Democratic Party was the party of hope, tolerance, and opportunity. Indeed, those themes echoed through Bill Clinton’s speeches in 1992. Clinton’s presidency was the high-water mark of the post-war Democratic Party. He blended JFK’s idealism with Reagan’s folksiness. He embodied America’s middle class, the greatest political force at the time, and pulled the country into a new century that our leaders promised would be peaceful and safe.
That has all vanished. Biden’s speech in Philadelphia last Thursday confirmed it.
As speeches go, the Biden speech was a letdown, filled with shallow attacks on broad categories of people and, of course, the former president. Nobody outside of a CNN newsroom, which appears to have modified the speech’s lighting in real-time, will be inspired by a fall campaign focused on Donald Trump and the people who rioted at the Capitol.
But writing a poor speech is one thing. Delivering it in front of a Nuremberg-style backdrop is quite another. The imagery shocked many people. It should have shocked everybody. It took just a few minutes for The Babylon Bee to draw comparisons between Biden’s speech and Nazi Germany. And while most Nazi comparisons are exaggerated, these ones struck a little too close to home.
After all, while the president warns about fascism (or “semi-fascism,” whatever that is) in America, his administration is the one censoring people who disagree with it and trying to prosecute its political opponents, both flagrant violations of democratic norms. His administration is the one that, while claiming to crack down on Big Tech, works with it to punish dissenting voices and stifle debate. His administration is one that attacks its critics as terrorists, and which compares speech to violence. His administration is the one that felt bold enough to create a “disinformation” board within the Department of Homeland Security, an Orwellian concept that the world has not seen on such a large scale since those 1930s regimes that Biden says he hates.
These are not signs of a healthy democracy. They are not what Biden promised to deliver during his 2020 campaign or his inaugural address. Voters have noticed. Although the president’s approval rating stabilized during August, it still sits at a measly 42.1 percent in the RealClearPolitics average. It’s hard to see that number increasing after last week’s speech.
The saddest part is that most Americans want Biden to succeed. That is what drew so many of them, me included, to his campaign. They did not like the negative tone that Trump brought to the White House. They wanted compassionate, competent, bipartisan leadership, somebody with the confidence to thank Trump for his service and move on. Biden seemed the perfect fit.
I learned earlier than others that those were hollow promises, and that Biden is a shell of his former self — at this point, a puppet of the media and political establishment, both of which are obsessed with Trump. Hence last Thursday’s speech.
It’s comforting to know that at least some White House staffers reportedly worried about the speech. They should speak up more often. Or resign and speak out publicly. Voters need to know that there are professionals within the Democratic Party who do not agree with this administration’s descent into demagoguery. There are people who care less about political labels and more about finding common ground on the vast issues our society is facing at home and abroad, people who believe that the progress America made in the decades after World War II were good things and that, while not perfect, we have built the freest and most fair country in the history of the world, a country that is the perfect foil to the oppressive society created by the CCP in China.
I know these people exist because I speak with them privately. But that’s not sufficient. The next two elections will be the most important ones since the Civil War. They will decide whether America moves on from the toxic, divisive Trump/Biden era, to deal with the issues facing the 21st-century world or whether we face another four years of hatred, censorship, and political persecution.
There are some bright signs. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has already backtracked on his state’s Covid policies, saying its lockdown didn’t work and that this is an area “where folks got it wrong.” His comments may come too late for the businesses that the lockdown destroyed and the kids whose educations were impaired, but they at least show the open-mindedness that we need in our leaders. And they stand in stark contrast to comments from California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who started the lockdown fetish in America and who still stubbornly claims that he did everything right.
(Disclaimer: as a lawyer, I am litigating a case that seeks to require that Newsom end the statewide Covid-19 emergency that has been in place since March 2020.)
But it’s clear that Biden is not the answer and needs to go. Last week’s speech confirmed it.
Of course, it’s possible that the president will acknowledge the criticism and pivot. But I doubt it. There are still too many people in the media and political establishment who are obsessed with Trump and want to see him behind bars. It’s hard to ignore that echo chamber and it’s hard to pivot from calling your political opponents fascists who are a threat to the country itself.
Thus, expect the message to continue and to change only if Americans finally say enough and vote accordingly.