Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Joe Biden’s ‘Democracy’ Speech Won’t Save Democrats

U.S. President Joe Biden. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
U.S. President Joe Biden. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

President Joe Biden gave a prime-time speech last night, condemning election denialism and warning that “democracy is on the ballot.” Biden condemned former President Donald Trump and his “Big Lie,” while warning that “there are candidates running for every level of office in America – for governor, Congress, attorney general, secretary of state,” who refused to commit to honoring the results of the upcoming election that they are running in.

Joe Biden’s Big Speech

Will the speech make any difference in Democrats’ chances to pull off some sort of upset in the midterms?

Curiously, Biden had already issued a big, prime-time speech about preserving democracy. That was on September 1st, at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. But apparently, Biden has grown increasingly concerned with how many election deniers won their GOP primaries and are now threatening to win their general elections. Simultaneously, it seems Joe Biden was tracking data that suggested “democracy” was moving up the list of voter concerns. So, Joe Biden thought he’d better give a second speech on democracy.

The Paul Pelosi Connection?

Joe Biden began his speech by linking election denialism to last week’s attack on Paul Pelosi. I follow that the Pelosi attack seems to have clearly been politically motivated, and most likely committed by someone with right-leaning tendencies. And I follow that election denialism has manifested itself in political violence, most notably the storming of the Capitol on January 6th. But relating the Pelosi attack – so directly and explicitly – to election denialism, just because a deranged right-winger attacked Pelosi, doesn’t quite add up. The connection is pretty attenuated – unless I’m missing something.

Am I missing something? Did Pelosi’s attacker say something to indicate he was attacking Pelosi because Democrats stole the 2020 election? Biden’s link between election denialism and the Pelosi attack would require something concrete – something I haven’t seen pointed out. Biden hinges the connection on the fact that Pelosi’s attack entered Pelosi’s home saying “Where’s Nancy, where’s Nancy?” which is what some January 6th rioters were also saying when they entered the Capitol.

Yeah, that’s too far of a stretch for me.

If some more concrete connection exists, then great, let’s relate the Pelosi attack to election denialism. But “Where’s Nancy” doesn’t cut it, and such an attenuated connection should not be the foundation of a prime-time speech, six days before the midterm election.

Democrats Aren’t Happy

Democrats are eager to suggest the Pelosi attack relates to election denialism – but not all Democrats were happy with Joe Biden’s speech.

Faiz Shakir, Bernie Sanders’ 2020 campaign manager and former aide to Nancy Pelosi, was wary of Biden’s speech during a Meet the Press interview, hours before the speech aired.

“We’re in the last phase where I think you ought to be talking to a persuasion audience, and I hope there are some people at the White House watching, because when you think about this address, he’s about to give tonight – I hope they’re re-writing it and focusing on cost of living,” Shakir said. “If you’re going to vote on democracy …and abortion, I’d posit to you that a lot of those people have made their decision.”

Great point. No one is confused about where the parties stand on democratic norms. But some voters, at the twelfth hour, may still not be clear about which party has a preferable economic policy, crime policy, foreign policy, or whatever.

An NBC News poll indicated that “threats to democracy” was a top midterm issue …for Democrats. For people who Joe Biden has already convinced to vote for him. Independents and swing voters, on the other hand, the people that are going to determine outcomes up and down the ballot, do not list “threats to democracy” as a top concern.

Democrats have been a little bit off on messaging all campaign season, though. Leaning hard into abortion, expecting the Dobbs decision to salvage a Democratic majority, the Democrats have only recently changed tack, in appreciation to the fact that voters were more concerned with crime and inflation than abortion.

Well, five more days until the midterms. At this point, concerning messaging, the die is likely cast.

Harrison Kass is the Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken. 

Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.