President Joe Biden delivered an unusual speech Wednesday night, urging Americans who don't support his policies to vote for Democratic candidates anyway in order to save democracy from "Extreme MAGA Republicans" and other "dark forces" threatening to destroy the country.
"We must vote knowing what's at stake and not just the policy of the moment," Biden said at Union Station in Washington, D.C., the former site of a massive homeless encampment. "In our bones, we know democracy is at risk."
The president framed the upcoming midterm elections as "a struggle for the very soul of America," implicitly scolding voters who might be inclined to support Republicans because they're concerned about the rising cost of living due to the rampant inflation on Biden's watch.
Americans should not base their votes on petty personal concerns, the president argued, because this was a "defining moment" for the country that required "all Americans regardless of party" to speak with "one unified voice" in support of Democrats. "This is no ordinary year," he said. "So I ask you to think long and hard about the moment we are in."
Biden, 79, began the speech by drawing a direct connection between the January 6th storming of the Capitol building and last week's attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D., Calif.) husband, who was bludgeoned with a hammer by a deranged nudist in San Francisco. "We don't settle our differences in America with a riot, a mob, or a bullet or a hammer, we settle them peacively [sic] at the battle blox [sic]— ballot box," the president articulated.
Both events were "the consequences of lies" peddled by the "defeated former president" and his allies who comprise the "extreme MAGA element of the Republican Party," which Biden described as a "minority" but also the "driving force" of the GOP.
Questioning the legitimacy of an election was simply "un-American," said Biden, who warned earlier this year that the 2022 election "would easily be illegitimate" unless Congress approved a sweeping election reform bill. (The legislation didn't pass.) He went on to tout the "record turnout" across the country, which has complicated Democratic efforts to accuse Republicans of voter suppression.
The speech, which was reportedly co-written by celebrity historian Jon Meacham, was riddled with clichés that probably won't resonate with the average voter, but might inspire the handful of #Resistance weirdos to tweet passionately: "Democracies are more than a form of government, they're a way of being." "We must vote knowing who we have been, what we're at risk of becoming." "This is not about me. It's about all of us. It's about what makes America, America."
When the president's speech was announced on Tuesday, it was widely viewed as a last-ditch effort to save the Democratic Party from crushing defeat at the ballot box. Reports indicate Biden was motivated to give the speech in response to polling data that suggest Republicans are likely to retake control of the House and possibly the Senate as well. He was also concerned that a number of so-called election deniers—including some that Democrats actively supported in primary elections earlier this year—were on track to win. When the speech was over, the purpose was less clear.
Those who watched the roughly 30-minute address could have saved themselves the time by watching MSNBC's Joy Reid interview failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton the previous night. "I think that with all of the noise that we’ve gotten in this election season, I don't think that people are really able to grasp [the threat Republicans pose to democracy]," Clinton said. "But more importantly, I’m not sure they really understand the threats to their way of life."
It's the most inspiring closing message Democrats can muster at this point. It's also what they've been saying non-stop for the better part of two years. And when they lose, after the hysteria has died down, they will inevitably lament that they failed to communicate their message effectively.