Democracy is on life support — and the GOP wants to pull the plug

President Joe BidenJoe BidenCourt nixes offshore drilling leases auctioned by Biden administration Laquan McDonald's family pushes for federal charges against officer ahead of early release Biden speaks with Ukrainian president amid Russian threat MORE came into the New Year taking names and kicking butt. This is a welcome relief from the first year of his term when he flashed too much of his velvet glove and too little of the iron fist.

On the first anniversary of the day that will forever live in infamy, Jan. 6, Biden lambasted former President Donald TrumpDonald TrumpMark Walker to stay in North Carolina Senate race Judge lays out schedule for Eastman to speed up records processing for Jan. 6 panel Michael Avenatti cross-examines Stormy Daniels in his own fraud trial MORE for his role in encouraging the right-wing extremists who launched the attack on the U.S. Capitol, the sacred temple of democracy.

He poked at his predecessor’s vanity when he said, “He’s just not the former president. He’s the defeated former president. It should have been the disgraced, dishonorable and defeated former president.”

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Biden struck again Tuesday in Atlanta when he announced that he was “tired of being quiet”. He sharply criticized Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate for threatening to filibuster the John LewisJohn LewisIt's time for 'Uncle Joe' to take off the gloves against Manchin and Sinema Trump and Biden should stop denigrating US elections Democrats say change to filibuster just a matter of time MORE Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. He said, “Not a single Republican has displayed the courage to stand up to a defeated president to protect America’s right to vote”.

The president should have and could have made his speech even stronger by saying democracy is on life support and the GOP wants to pull the plug.

Since he was in the city that was the cradle of the civil rights movement, he could have used the setting to turn up the heat on Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOvernight Health Care — ObamaCare gets record numbers On The Money — Economy had post-recession growth in 2021 Progressives apply pressure on Biden, Senate to pass Build Back Better MORE (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaClyburn calls for full-court press on voting rights Swing-state voters concerned about Build Back Better's impact on inflation: poll Voto Latino CEO: Sinema will have a 'very difficult pathway' in 2024 reelection MORE (D-Ariz.) with a reminder of the shameful history of Democrats using the filibuster in the 1950s and 1960s to deny African Americans the right to vote. It took another Democrat President Lyndon Johnson to change that sad legacy. Now it’s time for the two Democratic lawmakers to do their part to finally remove the blemish on the party’s reputation. 

Demonstration of conviction requires constant repetition and aggressive action.

The president greeted 2022 with a net-negative job rating facing a group of angry Americans who think the nation is headed to hell in a handbasket. He won’t be able to connect with riled up electorate by being Mr. Nice Guy 24/7. He needs to convince people he’s mad as hell at GOP threats to filibuster democracy and his big and bold Build Back Better bill. 

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The lesson Biden hopefully learned from the first year of his presidency is when the going gets tough, the tough should get going. Biden needs to fight because the going will get even tougher — winter is coming to the White House. 

There is a sharp jump in omicron COVID-19 cases everywhere. Frostbelt residents will receive home heating bills that will chill them to the bone. When the weather warms, gasoline prices will get even higher  — and Trump’s buddy Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinYes, the US can legally intervene if Russia invades Ukraine Russia-Ukraine conflict threatens U.S. prestige China warns US to 'stop interfering' in Olympics MORE could begin his long-awaited spring offensive to suck the lifeblood out of Ukraine.

Since things aren’t likely to get any easier, Biden will need to get even tougher. The president should strike a balance. It’s fine to be good old Uncle Joe sometimes but not all the time.

The four years of Trump’s presidency and the first year of Biden’s are a study in extremes. Trump called out everybody all the time but was less empathetic than a potted plant. Biden oozes empathy but hardly ever called out his political enemies.

You don’t need to be a bully like Trump to use the presidential bully pulpit. You can’t blame the new president for trying to lower the temperature after four years of Trump’s overheated rhetoric. But Biden turned the thermostat off instead of turning it down.

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Biden deserves credit for his new combative tone, but actions speak louder than words. Americans are tired of and frustrated with congressional gridlock. 

The president needs to flex his muscles with aggressive executive action. If that means picking a fight with federal courts, bring it on. 

He can demonstrate his commitment to the fight for voting rights with a request to Attorney General Merrill Garland to closely scrutinize the 34 new laws passed by 19 states after the 2020 election that deprived American citizens of their voting rights.

The president should issue an executive order for a drastic reduction or cancellation of student debt. It would stimulate the economy and energize a key part of the Democratic base, millennials, for the midterm elections. His Department of Justice could use federal antitrust laws to crack down on big businesses like the oil companies who use their size and power to jack up profits and inflate consumer prices.

Biden has played defense ever since he became president. Now it’s time to be assertive and play some offense. In any sport, a good defense is always an asset. But you don’t win games unless you put points on the board.   

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. His podcast, “Deadline D.C. with Brad Bannon,” airs on Periscope TV and the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter: @BradBannon