Joe Biden loves this symbolism. The US President keeps coming back to Pennsylvania and particularly to face-rich Philadelphia to give important speeches.
He was born in Scranton/Philadelphia and is only 30 minutes by train from Wilmington in the neighboring state of Delaware. Nicknamed “Pennsylvania’s third senator” when he was still in the US Senate, when the former vice president announced his third run for the presidency in 2019, he did so in Philadelphia – which is where he went moved its campaign headquarters.
Biden is back in town Thursday night. More specifically, in Independence National Historical Park, which is considered the birthplace of the United States of America. In late summer 2022, the old town is full of tourists and school classes taking selfies in front of the old, now useless “Liberty Bell”, improving their knowledge of American history and especially the Declaration of Independence, and strolling through the parks around Independence Hall.
The atmosphere is cheerful and relaxed. The fact that the President of the United States is about to visit does not trigger any hysteria or major protests.
Biden has come to address his people with an important speech at prime time. As the White House put it, it sounds like this: In his speech on the “soul of the nation” he will talk about the dangers for American democracy and at the same time call for unity. It will not be a political speech.
After he had already warned against Donald Trump and his “MAGA Republicans” a few days ago at a performance in Maryland, calling them “semi-fascists”, it was clear that he would also clearly name who exactly in this speech pose a threat to democracy. Nine weeks before the midterm congressional elections, his address serves one purpose in particular: the president is officially entering the campaign.
“Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans embody an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” he says right at the start of his 25-minute speech in front of the patriotically lit Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were passed . Also, the President says that while he stands here, equality and democracy are under attack.
“The MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution. They don’t believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people. They refuse to accept the results of free elections.”
And they would incite political violence, says Biden, referring to the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 and the attacks on federal police after the raid on Trump’s Florida home. But in America there is no place for political violence. “Never.”
However, with the tailwind of improved polls, the President is also trying to spread optimism. The MAGA people (MAGA is short for Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”) are not in the majority within the Republican Party, he says. But let the “Grand Old Party” (GOP) be intimidated by the radicals.
That is why Americans must come together to defend democracy. He also says he has never been more optimistic about the country’s future, despite pandemics, gun violence and the attempted coup on January 6, 2021.
The speech will most likely be heard frequently over the next nine weeks, and probably well past the midterms on November 8th. Biden, who long referred to his predecessor as “the earlier guy,” now seems convinced he must confront extremism in the Republican Party head-on.
He wants to turn the midterms into a referendum on Trump. And the 79-year-old apparently believes that the arch-conservative author Ann Coulter is right when she says: “Trump is done”, Trump is finished.
The latter, in turn, will do everything to refute this impression. This Saturday, for example, when he also performs in Pennsylvania, that always hard-fought state.
In Wilkes-Barre, not far from Biden’s birthplace Scranton, Trump will campaign for Republicans like Senate candidate Mehmet Oz, but above all he will once again incite his supporters against the allegedly illegitimate government in Washington.
And at least he’ll flirt with speculation about running for the White House again in 2024. It is not even out of the question for him that he will already announce this this Saturday.
Unlike many in his party, who would rather address the mistakes of the Biden government, he would prefer nothing more than to be the focus of attention. That hasn’t changed since the moment he came down the escalator at the Trump Hotel in Washington in June 2015 and announced his presidential bid.
If Trump should repeat that whenever that will be, there is much to suggest that Biden will also run again. After months in which his popularity ratings remained in the basement and in his party the realization grew that he was actually too old for this, he is suddenly in a much better position.
Domestic political successes, the radicalism of the Republicans and above all the abortion judgment of the Supreme Court are responsible for this. With his appearance in Philadelphia on Thursday, Biden is making it clear that he is determined not to let Trumpism run its course.