US

‘Unpredecented, unlawful, un-American’: Biden warns democracy at risk as midterms loom

Analysis: Biden’s intervention is high risk – and controversial

This was no normal pre-election speech, and be in no doubt, an intervention like this is extremely controversial.

By saying that only his Democratic Party stands for democracy – however true he may believe that to be – is he essentially telling voters that the nation’s democracy has already been lost?

Just days from the elections in such a tense environment, it’s a high-risk speech indeed.

Scheduled late in the day and with a sense of urgency, it wasn’t about policy, it was about the stability of the country – the “soul of the nation” as he put it.

“We’re facing a defining moment, an inflection point,” Mr Biden warned. “Make no mistake – democracy is on the ballot.”

His party may well be trailing the polls – a drubbing next week is possible, and so he’s looking for votes of course. But the president sought to get beyond that.

“This is not about me … It’s about all of us. It’s about what makes America, America. It’s about the durability of our democracy.”

The context is a nation bitterly divided and a former president who continues to insist he won the last election.

Ever since the 2020 presidential race, Donald Trump has claimed, without any evidence, that he was robbed. A significant proportion of his supporters believe him – some polls suggest as many as 70%.

Defending the election’s integrity, Mr Biden said: “Every legal challenge that could have been brought was brought. Every recount that could have been undertaken was undertaken. Every recount confirmed the results.”

There are up to 300 Republican election deniers on the ballot next week – Trump allies such as Arizona’s candidate for governor, Kari Lake.

Mr Biden drew a line between what he called “the big lie” and the hammer attack last week on the House Speaker’s husband.

“The assailant ended up using a hammer to smash Paul’s skull. We don’t settle our differences America with a riot, a mob, or a bullet or a hammer,” he said in a stark warning about violent political extremism.

Mr Biden’s speech built on similar comments and rhetoric he’s made over the past few weeks.

“This has not happened since the civil war,” he said a few days ago. “It sounds like hyperbole, but it hasn’t happened since then, as bad as it is now.”

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