Biden opens re-election campaign calling Trump a threat to democracy
President Joe Biden speaks in Blue Bell, Pa., Friday, Jan. 5, 2024. | Matt Rourke / AP

VALLEY FORGE, Pa.—This time, Joe Biden didn’t pull punches: His GOP White House predecessor, Donald Trump, and Trump’s MAGA Republicans are an overwhelming threat to U.S. democracy and the U.S. Constitution, he has declared. And that’s going to be the key theme in his 2024 bid for a return to the White House.

As he dramatically called for a national fight for democracy, however, he dispatched Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the Middle East yet again to quell the fires that have broken out in the region as a result of U.S. support for attacks on the right of the Palestinian people to live. Some 22,000 have died in the U.S.-backed bombing of Gaza, from powerful weapons supplied by the United States to Israel.

Biden mentioned Trump, by name, more than 40 times in his opening re-election address, on Jan. 5 in Valley Forge, Pa., the site of George Washington’s 1776-77 winter encampment with his hungry, ill-paid, ill-clothed Continental Army. He did not mention the genocide of Palestinians going on in Gaza.

Blinken met U.S. allies in the Middle East in an attempt to quell rising anger about the U.S.-backed killing in Gaza. His visit is designed to allow Biden to claim his administration is doing something meaningful to reduce civilian casualties, half of which have been children.

Jordan, a close partner with the U.S., alarmed the administration last week when it backed South Africa’s plan to take a complaint about Israeli genocide in Gaza to the International Court of Justice. The Jordanians told Blinken they want the U.S. to back an immediate ceasefire, which it has thus far opposed. Blinken also visited warehouses where food was being prepared for starving Gazans and claimed he had pressed Israel to “open access routes for food into Gaza.”

Biden ignored all of this as he recounted the details of the Trump-ordered, Trump-incited, Trump-commanded Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol invasion, insurrection, and attempted coup d’etat, Biden said his foe would do it again.

“Is democracy still America’s sacred cause?” Biden asked.

“I mean it. This is not rhetorical, academic, or hypothetical. Whether democracy is still America’s sacred cause is the most urgent question of our time. And it’s what the 2024 election is all about. Trump’s assault on democracy isn’t just part of his past. It’s what he’s promising for the future. He’s been straightforward. He’s not hiding the ball,” Biden declared.

“This is like something out of a fairy tale, a bad fairy tale,” said Biden, who legitimately beat Trump, by seven million popular votes and 74 electoral votes, in the 2020 presidential race. He continued:

“Trump began his 2024 campaign by glorifying the failed violent insurrection on our Capitol. The guy who claims law and order sows lawlessness and disorder. Trump’s not concerned about your future, I promise you. Trump is now promising a full-scale campaign of revenge and retribution, his words, for some years to come. They were his words, not mine. He went on to say he’d be a dictator on day one.”

Virtually nobody among commentators believes Trump would halt after that day, Jan. 21, 2025.

While Biden concentrated on Trump, he gave only a passing reference to the MAGA Republican elected officials, who supported—and still support—Trump’s unsuccessful campaign to overturn the 2020 election results.

The election deniers include new House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., who rounded up 100 other House Republicans to support an unsuccessful Texas-conceived federal lawsuit challenging election results in other states.

They also include, infamously, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who urged on the insurrectionists as they gathered on Capitol Hill after Trump’s speech ordering them to march down Pennsylvania Avenue for the attack. Hawley then raised his fist in “solidarity” with the invaders as he strode away.

It is clear that Trump poses the clear and present danger to democracy that Biden described. Progressives are warning, however, that Biden’s terrible foreign policy, by depressing votes for him, could well improve the chances of Donald Trump returning to power.

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Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.

John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.