In Philadelphia, Joe Biden Peddled a Competing Brand of Authoritarianism
Back in the distant year of 2020, Joe Biden sold himself as a unifier, able to bridge divides created by then-President Donald Trump.
What a long way he’s fallen. Last week, he took to a stage to denounce his political opponents as a “threat to this country” in a setting seemingly chosen by 20-something staffers who dusted off imagery from V for Vendetta. And he did so not as a political candidate, but “as your president.” Even for those of us who agree that Republicans are a flawed bunch defined by their loyalty to a wannabe caudillo, Biden’s alternative is just a different brand of authoritarianism.
“There is no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country,” President Biden insisted in a speech at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, lit blood-red and flanked in the background by two marines. “And here, in my view, is what is true: MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution. They do not believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people.”
It’s true that former President Trump threw a temper tantrum when he lost the 2020 election and that his supporters rioted at the Capitol. To this day, Trump and company nurse fantasies of stolen elections. But it’s not clear what use for the Constitution and rule of law is harbored by his successor, who took office with an avalanche of executive orders that disconcerted even The New York Times editorial board and recently launched a half-trillion-dollar vote-buying scheme by unilaterally forgiving student loans.
“Look, I know politics can be fierce and mean and nasty in America,” Biden added. “I get it. I believe in the give-and-take of politics, in disagreement and debate and dissent.”
He believes in disagreement, debate, and dissent? Really? But his administration quietly deputized supporters at social media companies to suppress disfavored news stories and viewpoints, as revealed through emails uncovered in a lawsuit by the attorneys general of Louisiana and Missouri.
“The social media companies are at pains to show that they share the government’s goals, which is precisely the problem,” Reason‘s Jacob Sullum noted. “Given the broad powers that the federal government has to make life difficult for these businesses through public criticism, litigation, regulation, and legislation, the Biden administration’s ‘asks’ for stricter moderation are tantamount to commands.”
Prior to that, the FBI distributed a bulletin on symbols “used by Anti-Government or Anti-Authority Violent Extremists” that included patriotic imagery from the American Revolution. It makes you wonder why the White House bothered to choose Independence Hall as the backdrop for last week’s speech. And
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