President Joe Biden will pay a solemn tribute to the violent crowd that stormed the U.S. Capitol two years ago on Friday. He will also give a warning: the threats that were brought to light by the Jan. 6 select committee and seemed to have been dealt with in the midterm elections of 2022 are still very much out there.
Multiple advisers say that Biden will use Friday’s speech to bring up again how dangerous and chaotic election deniers are, even though the November elections, in which many of them lost, are starting to fade from memory. He will say that Republicans are the same as the people who tried to change the results of Donald Trump’s loss by force.
Eddie Glaude, a professor at Princeton University who has talked with Biden about the issue, said, “Our democracy still stands on a knife’s edge. The forces that brought us to the edge on January 6th continue to work to undermine the basic pillars of our Republic, and the radicalism of the Republican Party has not gone away.”
Glaude said, “President Biden needs to keep sounding the alarm.” “What’s wrong with us can’t be fixed with just one election or by Donald Trump getting worse.”
The White House never had a debate about whether or not to make a big deal out of the anniversary of the uprising. This year, the date falls at a good time for Biden’s political career. He will address the nation at the same time that the Republican-led House of Representatives is in chaos over who will be the next speaker and that Donald Trump, the GOP’s only declared presidential candidate, keeps saying things that most people think are wrong about the election.
A year ago, Biden went to the Capitol and harshly criticized Trump and his supporters for putting “a dagger at the throat of America” by spreading lies about the election that led to violence in the same room where he was standing.
This speech was the start of a year-long thread that Biden used to connect the events of Jan. 6 to the far-right members of the GOP and the people who tried to get into Congress and statehouses across the country by saying that the election wasn’t fair. The House Jan. 6 committee worked hard all year to find out what led to the uprising in 2021. By the time the midterm elections were over, many of the most well-known election deniers had lost.
But internal polls show that voters cared about the issue, and the White House and Democrats don’t plan to drop it as 2024 approaches. Aides at the White House have stressed that Friday’s speech will be mostly about remembering the tragedy and bravery of that day. Officials said that Biden would thank people in law enforcement, such as Capitol Police officers who stopped rioters and election officials who didn’t back down when Trump told lies after lies.
This week, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Air Force One that one of the president’s main points will be to honor brave and patriotic Americans who put themselves in danger for others and our democracy. “Jan. 6 was one of the darkest days, but sometimes darkness can lead to light and hope.”
Biden has talked a lot about domestic threats to the country’s democracy. He ran for president because he thought Trump was tearing the country apart, and he talked about it a lot in his first few months in office.
When Biden met with a group of well-known historians last summer to talk about threats to American democracy, many of them stressed how important it was for him to publicly call out anti-democratic behavior, according to three people who were there but asked not to be named because they were talking about private conversations.
The historians told Biden that ignoring it would be dangerous because it could make a violent speech and denying that an election happened become normal parts of American politics. And they told him that how he dealt with the problems would become part of his legacy no matter what.
Biden paid attention to what was said. As the general election campaign heated up last fall, he gave two speeches warning about violent anti-democratic forces. One was in front of Independence Hall, and the other was just a few days before the midterms after the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was attacked brutally.
It was not a decision that everyone liked. Some members of the president’s party were worried that he was focusing too much on issues that didn’t matter to most voters, who were worried about inflation and the loss of abortion rights.
But senior Biden advisors saw private polling after the midterms that showed that warnings about prominent election deniers, such as several candidates for governor and state secretaries of state, did have a big effect, according to two people who were familiar with the findings but not allowed to talk about internal documents.
Even though the midterm elections are over and the committee is almost done with its work, Biden will keep sounding the alarms in the coming months because he believes the threat is still there.
The chaos in the House of Representatives has led to the president’s speech on Friday. A right-wing group in the GOP has made it impossible to choose a speaker. Many of these same lawmakers, as well as others who are expected to play important roles in the new Congress, voted against Biden’s certification and have pushed false claims of election fraud.
Pete Giangreco, a veteran Democratic consultant in Chicago, said, “This fight over the speaker is about the same thing as the one on January 6.” “It’s not about ideas. This is a group of people who don’t believe in American democracy, its institutions, or the idea that the majority should rule.
Aides in the West Wing also say that Trump’s shadow is cast over the political scene. Even though the former president’s political standing has dropped in recent months, many people close to Biden still think Trump will be the GOP presidential nominee in 2016. As Biden gets ready to probably start his campaign in the next few months, some people in his circle are getting ready to make Jan. 6 a big part of the campaign.
45 percent of voters, according to a new Politico/Morning Consult poll released on Thursday, think Trump is “very” responsible for what will happen on January 6, 2021. More than 75% of Democrats say that insurrection could change how they vote in 2024. The same is true for 53% of independents and 35% of Republicans.
Brendan Nyhan, an expert on democracy at Dartmouth College, said that the evidence that the committee released on January 6 made it even clearer that what happened almost two years ago was a failed coup. “There are still threats, though, and former President Trump is the biggest one. Our experts say that if the Republican Party nominates him again, he would be a serious or extraordinary threat to democracy.”
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