Biden warns US democracy threatened, but how can he save it?

(Global Times)

President Joe Biden is finding it’s easier to call out attacks on democracy than it is to stop them.

By COLLEEN LONG and ZEKE MILLER

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“The MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” President Joe Biden said during his prime-time speech in Philadelphia on Thursday.

President Joe Biden is finding it’s easier to call out attacks on democracy than it is to stop them.

His fundamental rationale for running for president was that America’s democratic traditions were in jeopardy. Now, 20 months into his presidency, the dangers are worse, Biden’s warnings are more dire — and the limits of his own ability to fix the problem are clearer.

Former President Donald Trump continues to stoke the baseless claim the 2020 election was stolen, and even now advocates for the results in certain battleground states to be decertified even though the falsehood has been rejected by dozens of courts and his own attorney general. The belief has taken deep root in the Republican Party, with dozens of candidates insisting Trump was right.

Never in the country’s history have elections taken place in a climate where one party has so frontally questioned the integrity of the electoral process and actively sought to undermine confidence in it.

“We’re in an unprecedented situation here, because Biden’s predecessor has shown a flagrant disregard for the Constitution of the United States, and now others are following that path,” said Princeton historian Sean Wilentz, who was among a group invited to the White House recently to put today’s challenges in historical context. “It could be dangerous.”

Two-thirds of Republicans believe Biden wasn’t legitimately elected president, according to an AP-NORC poll. They believe that votes were switched, or voting machines were corrupted en masse, or that fake ballots were cast in favor of Biden because pandemic-era policies made voting too easy.

Trump-backed candidates are winning primaries and some will make it to Congress. In the states, nearly 1 in 3 Republican candidates for offices that play a role in overseeing, certifying or defending elections supported overturning the results of the 2020 presidential race.

Candidates have signaled a new willingness to simply refuse to accept the results of their election if they lose. And election workers across the country are getting death threats and are harassed online, pushing many to just resign.

“We are very clearly playing with fire with some of the new tactics, allowing them to proliferate around the country,” said Matthew Weil, the executive director of our Democracy Program at the Bipartisan Policy Center think tank. “It’s: ‘If my candidate loses, I’m going to drag it out as long as possible. I can cut the legs out from the person who beat me from taking office.’ That’s a new feature and it’s pretty dangerous. We can’t have an election system where people aren’t willing to lose.”

Checking the antidemocratic forces within Trumpism is not just a policy aim, it’s a political endeavor as well, and that clouds the picture.

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