President Joe Biden issued a stern warning on Thursday, asserting that Donald Trump and his supporters pose a threat to American democracy. In a speech in Arizona, where he commemorated a library honoring the late Republican Senator John McCain, who was a friend and vocal Trump critic, Biden reiterated a central theme of his campaign by characterizing the “Make America Great Again” movement as a serious peril to the U.S. political system. He expressed this warning in stark terms, declaring, “There’s something perilous unfolding in America right now.”
Biden stressed the critical importance of safeguarding democracy and criticized the silence and complicity of certain mainstream Republicans in the face of Trump’s leadership. He implied that Trump is more focused on personal power than on upholding fundamental national values.
Despite the 2024 presidential election being over a year away, Biden’s emphasis on this issue reflects Trump’s position as the clear front-runner for the Republican nomination, even though he faces four indictments, including two linked to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.
This speech marked the fourth in a series of addresses by Biden on the challenges facing democracy, a topic that is central to his presidency as he strives to maintain public support amid low approval ratings and widespread concerns about his age, 80.
Biden employed a similar line of argument in the run-up to the 2022 midterm elections, during which Democrats made gains in Congress. However, reshaping the narrative in Washington could prove to be a challenging endeavor, given the mounting pressure Biden faces in Congress, where House Republicans have initiated an impeachment inquiry and the possibility of a government shutdown looms—something Trump has actively encouraged.
The president has consistently centered his attention on defending democracy, viewing it as both sound policy and a successful political strategy. Last year’s midterm election results, which demonstrated that candidates who denied the legitimacy of the 2020 election did not fare well in competitive races, along with polling data indicating that democracy was a compelling issue for voters in 2022, have informed this approach.
Biden stressed that safeguarding democracy is a matter that transcends partisanship and called on voters not to allow Republican candidates who question the legitimacy of the 2020 election to evade accountability.
Following his speech, Biden participated in a fundraising event for his reelection campaign in Arizona, attended by Brittney Griner, a prominent basketball star who was detained in Russia on drug-related charges and arrested at the Moscow airport last year.
Arizona holds particular significance in the context of defending democracy, as it transitioned into a politically competitive state during Trump’s presidency after decades of Republican dominance. Concerns about election results in the state have persisted, with efforts to overturn or cast doubt on the 2020 election results continuing, and some GOP candidates persisting in denying basic facts about elections.
Despite the predominance of Trump-aligned forces in the Republican Party, many Republican voters have expressed concerns about issues such as the economy and border security, rather than dwelling on election results from two years prior.
Biden’s focus on defending democracy resonates strongly with key voting demographics in Arizona, including Latinos and veterans. These groups are uniquely affected by election denialism and the events of January 6 at the U.S. Capitol, as many have experienced corruption in their countries of origin and recognize the importance of safeguarding democracy.