WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, Sept. 1, President Joe Biden delivered a speech on the “soul of the nation” and ongoing threats to democracy. Standing at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 and the U.S. Constitution written and debated in 1787 — Biden tells a sober, yet optimistic tale of a hijacked Republican party in contrast to the possibility of “building a future together.”
“History tells us that blind loyalty to a single leader and a willingness to engage in political violence is fatal to democracy,” Biden described early on in his speech. Later on, he explained that “democracy cannot survive when one side believes there are only two outcomes to an election: either they win, or they were cheated.” Biden also listed the accomplishments of his administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress.
Throughout the speech, Biden reiterated a distinction between “MAGA Republicans” (which he mentioned over a dozen times) and “mainstream Republicans.” He called out the threats to election officials and poll workers and the growing acceptance of violence as a political tool, often sanctioned by GOP leaders. Biden was hinting not only at the Jan. 6 insurrection, but at the rise in violent rhetoric, encouraged by top Republicans, following the recent FBI raid on former President Donald Trump’s home. U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) delivered remarks earlier this evening ahead of Biden’s speech and also mentioned the FBI raid, though he had quite a different understanding. In McCarthy’s speech, he listed the raid as an example of his interpretation of “threats to American democracy,” along with examples like stimulus checks, the “defund the police” movement and immigration laws.
“I will not stand by and watch the will of the American people be overturned by wild conspiracy theories and baseless evidentiary claims and fraud. I will not stand by and watch elections in this country be stolen by people who simply refused to accept that they lost,” Biden exclaimed. He vowed to defend our democracy “with every fiber” of his being and called upon Americans to do the same, to speak out, get engaged and vote.