In his recent “Soul of the Nation” address, President Biden spoke for 25 minutes about the threat to democracy posed by the Trump movement. Making a point to differentiate MAGA Republicans from the more “mainstream” ones, he explained:
Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.
Now, I want to be very clear — very clear up front: Not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans. Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology.
I know because I’ve been able to work with these mainstream Republicans.
But there is no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country.
Conservative media reacted with predictable horror, calling it an attack on the 75 million Americans who voted for Trump in the 2020 election. Ben Shapiro called it “the most demagogic, outrageous, and divisive speech [he’s] ever seen from an American president.” Tucker Carlson warned that Biden’s speech sought to delegitimize and even criminalize the GOP as an organization. Mark Levin called Biden an “extremely dangerous demagogue.” Sean Hannity denounced the speech as “hate-filled.”
All of this of course is quite rich coming from those who supported Donald Trump even after he smeared Mexican immigrants as drug dealers and rapists, barred Muslims from entering the country, and suggested ten-year prison sentences for Black Lives Matter protestors who defaced statues of our Founding Fathers.
Right-wing pseudo-indignation aside, however, there is an important critique of Biden’s speech that no one of prominence has yet leveled: it was, at its core, a complete lie.
Biden’s rhetorical olive branch to “mainstream” Republicans with whom he’s collaborated in the past is laughable, given that the Democratic Party has worked tirelessly this election cycle to undermine moderate Republicans and elevate the very “MAGA forces” he says pose such an existential threat to the republic. In numerous primaries throughout the country, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and Democratic PACs have spent huge amounts of money boosting MAGA Republicans against their more centrist opponents, thinking they will make for weaker general election adversaries.
Take for instance Michigan’s 3rd Congressional district. Incumbent Congressman Peter Meijer was one of only 10 Republican House members who voted to impeach Trump after the January 6th riot – a decision which should have earned him the respect of Democrats looking to enlist sensible Republicans in the larger effort protect democracy from Trump’s “semi-fascist” movement. Instead, the DCCC spent $400,000 on ads bolstering Meijer’s Trump-backed primary opponent John Gibbs, a 2020 election denier and proponent of a conspiracy theory which claims Democratic leaders participate in satanic “spirit cooking” rituals. With Democrats’ help, Gibbs defeated Meijer and is the current GOP nominee to represent MI-3.
In California, another pro-impeachment Republican Congressman, David Valadao, faced a primary challenge from the Trump-aligned Chris Mathys. In this case, Valadao prevailed in the end, despite The Democratic political action committee House Majority PAC creating multiple ads casting Mathys in a positive light as a “pro-Trump Republican” and disparaging Valadao as a RINO (see below).
In Illinois’ governor’s race, incumbent billionaire Democrat J.B. Pritzker and the Democratic Governor’s Association (DGA) spent an astounding $35 million to boost the Trump-endorsed Darren Bailey in his Republican primary against moderate Richard C. Irvin. In what is already the most expensive non-presidential race in United States history, Bailey is now on the ballot in November as the Republican nominee.
Perhaps most egregiously, in the Pennsylvania Governor’s race, Democrats strengthened longshot candidate and Trump loyalist Doug Mastriano. Mastriano not only supported Trump’s election denial, he himself attended the January 6th riot and helped break into the Capitol. This gubernatorial election is of particular importance, seeing as Pennsylvania is a pivotal swing state that could potentially determine the outcome of the 2024 Presidential race. It’s also a state where the Governor himself appoints the Secretary of State, whose job it is to certify election results. Therefore, it’s far from implausible that a Mastriano victory in November could put the state – and with it, perhaps, the Presidency – at risk of being stolen by Republicans. Nonetheless, his own Democratic opponent Josh Shapiro spent $840,000 on ads propelling Mastriano to victory in the GOP primary. Despite Democrats’ theory that Mastriano would be easy to beat in November, current polling indicates a very close race, with Shapiro leading by a mere 3 points.
These are just a few of many examples, and Democrats haven’t been shy about their role in promoting the candidacies of the very Republicans they denounce so strongly. DCCC Chair Sean Patrick Maloney admitted and defended such tactics in a recent Meet The Press interview. When Chuck Todd suggested he put “party over country” by elevating the most divisive and extreme Republican candidates across numerous races, Maloney responded:
Absolutely not did we put party over country. The moral imperative right now, Mr. Todd, is to keep the dangerous MAGA Republicans who voted to overturn our election out of power.
Maloney’s answer is shamelessly dishonest, seeing as all of these “MAGA Republicans” he feels so strongly about keeping “out of power” were running in primaries against non-MAGA Republicans who in many cases spoke out forcefully against Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. If Democrats’ first priority was actually to defend our democracy from the existential danger posed by Trump-aligned extremists, surely they would want to nip such threats in the bud by doing everything in their power to defeat them as early and as handily as possible. Instead, they’re doing the opposite and embracing Hillary Clinton’s “pied piper” strategy of 2016: boosting the most radical right-wing candidates in the hopes that they’ll be easier to defeat in the Fall (we all remember the results of that experiment, do we not?).
So as Biden insists that the “MAGA forces” within the Republican party represent a fringe minority, his own Democrats spend tens of millions of dollars aiding that very faction of the GOP in its efforts against the “mainstream” conservatives he misses so badly.
Outspoken anti-Trump Republican Adam Kinzinger put it best when asked on CNN about Democrats’ support for the aforementioned MAGA candidate John Gibbs, answering:
Don’t keep coming to me, asking where are all the good Republicans that defend democracy, and then take your donors’ money and spend half a million dollars promoting one of the worst election deniers that’s out there.
In reality, Democrats care nothing for unity, decency, or democracy. Their only concern is that of most politicians and political parties: power. Biden’s appeals to the better angels of Republicans’ nature, given Democrats’ subversion of the very anti-MAGA Republicans they pretend to hold in such high regard, are Orwellian enough to complement the speech’s widely panned stage production of blood-red floodlights and shadowy Marines looking directly into the crowd. War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength, and apparently, partisanship is patriotism – so long as the public isn’t equipped to spot the difference.