Biden Calls On America To Defend Democracy

Screenshot taken by the author.

By Terrance Turner

Sept. 1, 2022

Tonight, President Joe Biden asked Americans to join him on a crusade of defending American democracy. In one of the most forceful speeches since he took office, Biden called out what he termed “MAGA Republicans” as threats to democracy and spelled out what those threats mean for democratic countries.

Biden’s speech took place at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the site of the Constitutional Convention. “This is where America made its Declaration of Independence to the world more than two centuries ago, with an idea unique among nations,” Biden said, “an America where all are created equal.”

This is where the United States Constitution was written and debated. This is where we set in motion the most extraordinary experiment of self-government the world has ever known with three simple words: “We the people.” We, the people, these two documents and the ideas they embody; the quality and democracy are the rock upon which this nation is built. They’re how we became the greatest nation on Earth. They’re why for more than two centuries America has been a beacon to the world.

But as I stand here tonight, the quality and democracy are under assault. We do ourselves no favors to pretend otherwise. So tonight, I come to this place where it all began, to speak as plainly as I can, to the nation: about the threats we face, about the power we have in our own hands to meet these threats, and about the incredible future that lies in front of us — if only we choose it.

We, the people, have burning inside of each of us the flame of liberty that was lit here at Independence Hall –a flame that led our way through abolition, the Civil War, suffrage, the Great Depression, world wars, civil rights,” Biden said. He spoke of “building an America that is more prosperous, free and just. That is the work of my presidency, the mission I believe in with my whole soul.”

US President Joe Biden speaks about the soul of the nation, outside of Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on September 1, 2022. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

“Too much of what’s happening in America today is not normal,” Biden continued. “Donald Trump and the ‘MAGA Republicans’ represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic. And I want to be very clear, very clear upfront: not every Republican, not even the majority, are MAGA Republicans. Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology. I know, because I’ve been able to work with those mainstream Republicans. But there’s no question today that this Republican party is being run, dominated, intimidated, by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans.

These are hard things. But I’m an American president –not of red America or blue America, but of all America. I believe it’s my duty, my duty, to level with you, to tell the truth no matter how difficult, no matter how painful. 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. They refuse to accept the results of a free election, and they’re working right now as I speak, in state after state — to get power, to decide elections to the America to partisans and cronies, empowering election deniers to undermine democracy itself. MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards, backwards to an America where there’s no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love.

They promote authoritarian leaders and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country. They look at the mob that stormed the United States on January 6, brutally attacking our law enforcement, not as insurrectionists who placed a dagger at the throne of our democracy — but they look at them as patriots and they see their MAGA failure to stop a peaceful transfer of power after the 2020 election as preparation for the 2022 and 2024 elections,” he said.

But while the threat to American democracy is real, I want to say as clearly as I can: We are not powerless in the face of these threats. We are not bystanders to this ongoing attack on democracy. There are far more Americans, far more Americans, from every background and belief who reject the extreme MAGA ideology then those who accept it,” Biden said. “And folks, it’s within our power it’s in our hands yours and mine to stop the assault on American democracy.

“I believe America is at an inflection point: one of those moments that determine the shape of everything that’s to come after. And now, America must choose to move forward or to move backwards, to build a future or obsess about the past, to be a nation of Hope and unity and optimism or nation of fear, division, and of darkness.

MAGA Republicans have made their choice. They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos they live in not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies. But together, together we can choose a different path. We can choose a better path forward to the future, a future of possibility, a future to build and dream and hope.”


“This is a nation that honors our Constitution. We do not reject it. This is a nation that believes in the rule of law. We do not repudiate it. This is a nation that respects free and fair elections. We honor the will of the people. We do not deny it. And this is a nation that rejects violence as a political tool. We do not encourage violence. We are still an America that believes in honesty and decency and respect for others. Patriotism, liberty, justice for all, hope, possibilities — we are still, at our core, a democracy,” Biden said, to applause. “And yet, history tells us that blind loyalty to a single leader and a willingness to engage in political violence is fatal to democracy.”

“For a long time, we’ve told ourselves that American democracy is guaranteed, but it’s not. We have to defend it, protect it, stand up for it, each and every one of us. That’s why tonight, I’m asking our nation to come together, unite behind the single purpose of defending our democracy regardless of your ideology.

We’re all called by duty and conscience to confront extremists who put their own pursuit of power above all else. Democrats, independents, mainstream Republicans, we must be stronger, more determined and more committed to saving American democracy. And MAGA Republicans are destroying American democracy.”

Biden later added: “Ladies and gentlemen, we can’t be pro-insurrectionist and pro-American. They’re incompatible. We can’t allow violence to be normalized in this country. It’s wrong. We each have to reject political violence with all the moral clarity and conviction this nation can muster now. We can’t let the integrity of our elections be undermined, for that is a path to chaos.

Look, I know politics can be fierce and mean and nasty in America. I get it. I believe in the give and take of politics, in disagreement and debate and dissent. We’re a big, complicated country. But democracy endures only if we, the people, respect the guardrails of the Republic. Only if, we the people accept the results of free and fair elections. Only if, we the people see politics, not as total war, but mediation of our differences.

Democracy cannot survive when one side believes there are only two outcomes to an election: Either they win or they were cheated. And that’s where the MAGA Republicans are today. They don’t understand what every patriotic American knows. You can’t love your country only when you win.”


It’s fundamental. American democracy only works only if we choose to respect the rule of law and the institutions that were set up in this chamber behind me. Only if we respect our legitimate political differences.

I will not stand by and watch — I will not — the will of the American people be overturned by wild conspiracy theories and baseless evidence-free claims of fraud. I will not stand by and watch elections in this country stolen by people who simply refuse to accept that they lost. I will not stand by and watch the most fundamental freedom in this country, the freedom to vote and have your vote counted, and be taken from you and the American people.

Look, as your president, I will defend our democracy with every fiber of my being, and I’m asking every American to join me.”


In one of the speech’s most powerful moments, Biden painted a picture of the America he imagines, contrasted it with that of his political adversaries, and pivoted to highlight his administration’s biggest accomplishments. “MAGA Republicans look at America and see carnage and darkness and despair. They spread fear and lies. Lies told for profit and power. But I see a different America — an America with an unlimited future, an America that’s about to take off. I hope you see it as well. Just look around.

I believed we could lift America from the depths of Covid, so we passed the largest economic recovery package since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and today America’s economy is faster, stronger than any other advanced nation in the world. We have more to go. I believe we can build a better America, so we passed the biggest infrastructure investment since President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and we’ve now embarked on a decade of rebuilding the nation’s roads, bridges, highways, ports, water systems, high-speed internet, railroads.

I believe we can make America safer, so we passed the most significant gun safety law since President Clinton. I believe we could go from being the highest cost of prescriptions to the world to making prescription drugs and health care more affordable, so we passed the most significant health care reform since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act.

And I believed we could create a clean energy future and save the planet, so we passed the most important climate initiative ever. Ever. Ever!”

President Joe Biden

“The cynics and the critics tell us nothing can get done, but they’re wrong. There is not a single thing America cannot do, not a single thing beyond our capacity if we do it together. It’s never easy. But we’re proving that America, no matter how long the road, progress does come.

Look, I know the last year, few years have been tough, but today Covid no longer controls our lives. More Americans are working than ever. Businesses are growing, our schools are open, millions of Americans have been lifted out of poverty. Millions of veterans once exposed to toxic burn pits will now get what they deserve for their families in compensation. American manufacturing has come alive across the heartland, and the future will be made in America, no matter what the white supremacists and the extremists say.

I made a bet on you, the American people, and that bet is paying off, proving that from darkness, the darkness of Charlottesville, of Covid, of gun violence, of insurrection, we can see the light. Light is now visible.”

This story will be updated.

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