President Joe Biden delivered an important speech in Philadelphia on Thursday night about the threat that Donald Trump and his followers pose to the future of American democracy. It was fiery and blunt by Biden standards. And there’s probably no better proof that Biden’s speech was desperately needed than the reaction it received online. Trump’s army of whiners and assholes absolutely lost their shit.
Trump supporters were simply aghast that a president of the United States would deliver such a divisive speech. Can you even imagine if Trump had ever said anything so polarizing? Biden said he was going to bring the country together, they whined, not speak frankly about the neo-fascist ideology of Trumpism. How dare Biden be so callous and mean?
What did Biden actually say? He spoke honestly about what will happen if Trump and his acolytes are allowed to retake power.
“Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” Biden said, insisting that he wasn’t talking about “mainstream Republicans.”
“MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards. Backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy. No right to contraception, no right to marry who you love,” Biden said, hinting at efforts to overturn marriage equality at the Supreme Court.
“They promote authoritarian leaders. They fanned the flames of political violence,” Biden said in a reference to the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that sought to overturn the 2020 election.
It was all objectively true. But it was way too much for many Trump supporters to hear.
Georgia radio host Erick Erickson, who has previously tweeted approvingly of dictator Augusto Pinochet’s use of helicopters to kill dissidents and who once shot bullet holes through a New York Times article he didn’t like, sent dozens of tweets and retweets Thursday night, absolutely disgusted that President Biden could be so mean to Trump supporters.
“President declares half the country a threat to democracy. He’s flanked by Marines with mid-1930’s German red lighting behind him. Talking heads on CNN and MSNBC love it. Fascism is relative,” Erickson tweeted.
Erickson, like many Trump supporters and even some elected officials, repeatedly compared Biden to Adolph Hitler, sharing altered images of the current president in front of swastikas and with Hitler-style mustaches. Trump’s online troll movement even got the hashtag #pedohitler trending on Twitter overnight.
President Biden is not a popular president, with only about 38% of Americans approving of his job performance, down from 41% a week earlier, according to Reuters. But it’s refreshing to hear a U.S. leader speak plainly about the threat Americans currently face and it will be interesting to see what kind of approval numbers he sees next week after his extremely straightforward speech.
But whatever the reaction in the polls, the backlash we’re seeing online proves that Biden hit a nerve. Trump’s worldview may be hard to pin down into a coherent ideology, but it’s ugly and dangerous, whatever you want to call it. And Trump supporters know, given how unpopular Trumpism is, that they need to mask the anti-democratic nature of the Trump movement—at least until Trump is able to take power again.
Click through to see some of the responses to Biden’s speech on Thursday, along with some helpful context. These people won’t be undone by their hypocrisy, but it’s still important to call it out, just as a reminder that Trumpism’s pearl clutching is always done in bad faith by people who fundamentally reject the notion of democracy.