In front of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall last week, President Joe Biden delivered a passionate speech about the battle for the “soul of America,” saying that “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”
Some high-profile members of the GOP quickly denounced the president’s remarks as divisive political rhetoric timed with the quickly approaching midterm elections.
Days later in Milwaukee, Biden didn’t back down — but he did explain that his stark warning wasn’t about the entire party.
“I want to be very clear up front: Not every Republican is a MAGA Republican. Not every Republican embraces that extreme ideology,” said Biden, who served as vice president for eight years and as a U.S. senator for decades. “I know because I’ve been able to work with mainstream Republicans my whole career.”
“But the extreme MAGA Republicans in Congress have chosen to go backwards — full of anger, violence, hate, and division,” the president continued, reiterating a point he made in Philadelphia, where he said an extremist faction of the GOP envisions and hopes to create “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 referred to the far-right supporters of the former president as the “Trumpies” and warned — in a reference to the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, 2021 — that they “don’t just threaten our personal rights and our economic security, they embrace political violence.”
“Think about it. The definition of democracy is you accept the will of the people when the votes are honestly counted. These guys don’t do it,” he said.
“Name me a democracy in the world where a leader argues to engage in violence,” Biden continued. “To this day, MAGA Republicans in Congress defend the mob that stormed the Capitol.”
Samuel Corum/Getty The attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021
In Wisconsin, he said he considers this moment as an “inflection point in American history” that “comes around every five or six generations.”
“Everything is changing,” the president said. “And we’re going to have to ask whether we want to be a country that moves forward or backwards; we’re going to — we’re going to build a future or we’re going to obsess about the past.”
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Sounding the alarm about extremism, the elimination of rights and political violence is inherently dark. But the president also offered a bit of light in a speech that was punctuated with plenty of applause.
“I’ve said many times: We’re the only country in the world that’s come out of every crisis we ever faced stronger than we went in it. No other nation has done that,” he said. “We do it because we’ve been a nation of unity, of hope, of optimism — not as a nation of division and violence and hatred that’s being preached by some others.”
“Together, we can and we must choose a different path: forward,” he continued. “We’re going to choose to build a better America.”