What Biden should have said on Jan. 6
Here’s what we learned on Jan. 6: There will be no pivot. President Biden made it clear in his remarks that he will pursue the central theme that put him in the White House, no matter how low his polls sink or how bleak the outlook for his party.
What is that theme? That President Trump is an enemy of the state, and many of his supporters are every bit as deplorable as Hillary Clinton thought they were.
Trump hatred elected Biden; that’s all he’s got.
Biden did have a choice. When he addressed the nation in remembrance of the riot that shook the U.S. Capitol, the president could have more aggressively addressed doubts about the outcome of the 2020 election, which continue to unsettle our nation.
In a recent poll, only 46 percent of respondents said Biden’s election was “definitely” legitimate. That is a horrible outcome. Some 71 percent of Republicans described his victory as “definitely not” or “probably not” legitimate, as well as 31 percent of independents.
That is not good for Joe Biden, and he should have tackled this running sore of his presidency.
He could have acknowledged that though he won by seven million votes nationwide, his victory came down to, as NPR reported at the time “just 44,000 votes in Georgia, Arizona and Wisconsin.” He should have reminded the audience that, similarly, Trump won by a mere 80,000 votes in three key states and that other presidents, like George W. Bush, have been elected with even narrower margins.
Biden should have argued that close votes are a feature of our elections, given the importance of just a few swing states. They’re not an aberration or cause for suspicion.
In addition to noting that numerous challenges to the election have come up empty, Biden could have reminded Americans that every single poll conducted in the week before the election predicted his win. Even the IBD/TIPP poll, which alone predicted a Trump victory in 2016, had Biden ahead by four points. Meanwhile, betting sites put odds of his victory at 67 percent. His victory was not unexpected.
The president could have gone bold and decried not only doubts about the legitimacy of his own election, but also the purposeful undermining of his predecessor by those continuing to accuse Trump of colluding with Russia. Imagine how such an olive branch might have been received.
There is tremendous anger in our country — anger that from day one Trump’s presidency was unjustly weakened by the cabal that launched the Russiagate narrative. Americans like fair play; the Russia hoax was not fair play.
If Biden had acknowledged that fury, Republican tempers might have begun to cool. That would be a good thing for the nation and for Biden.
Similarly, as he remembered Officer Brian Sicknick, who died of a stroke soon after Jan. 6, he might have also mentioned the death of unarmed Ashli Babbitt, a Trump supporter shot to death during the riots as she tried to enter the Capitol that day. Many are appalled that no charges were brought against the police officer who killed the Air Force veteran, which has been all but ignored by the media.
In an even bolder move, Biden might have pardoned those present at the Capitol on Jan. 6 who have been accused only of misdemeanors such as trespassing.
The people who gathered to hear Trump speak that day were convinced, as was the former president, that he had won the election and that Democrats had cheated. When Biden claims that those people “weren’t looking to uphold a free and fair election. They were looking to overturn one,” he is wrong.
The protesters on Jan. 6 were trying to prohibit the confirming of what they believed to be an illegitimate president. They were wrong to do so and wrong in their supposition, but demeaning and prosecuting them will not heal the great divide in our nation, as Biden promised to do; it will only make it worse.
Biden might also have emphasized that, despite the anxious pearl-clutching of liberals in the media, he does actually occupy the Oval Office. As he noted in his remarks, “Our Democracy held.” For the record, most of us assumed that it would.
American Democracy survived the protests of Jan. 6. It has survived much sterner tests, including a horrific Civil War in which one million people died. It has survived a Great Depression and world wars.
Democrats have binged on fear-mongering about threats to our government and our way of life, claiming we were on the brink of “insurrection.” That word is chosen (as opposed to uprising or rebellion, for instance) for only one reason: the 14th amendment to our Constitution prevents any official who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” from ever holding office again.
Do Democrats really fear a return of Donald Trump? If they are on the side of the people and pushing policies that voters like, why would they be terrified of a defeated rival who has been universally vilified by the media?
They are afraid of Trump because Democrats are on the wrong side of nearly every issue that is important to voters today, including the economy, education, immigration, crime and how they’ve handled COVID-19. Only about 42 percent of the country approves of the job Biden is doing, according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls, and 64 percent of the nation thinks we’re headed in the wrong direction.
This fall, we will see our democracy in action, as voters reject President Biden’s and Democrats’ wrong-headed progressive policies.
Liz Peek is a former partner of major bracket Wall Street firm Wertheim & Company. Follow her on Twitter @lizpeek.
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