Antelope Valley Press

What Democrats will never do to defend our democracy

- Rich Lowry Rich Lowry is the editor-in-chief of National Review.

Joe Biden went to Valley Forge to give a big speech telling us how much he cares about defending democracy against the threat represente­d by Donald Trump.

How much does President Biden care? Enough to give a speech defending democracy, one of what’s sure to be many if Trump is his opponent.

Biden’s alarm about the precarious­ness of the American system, though, will never translate into actions he wouldn’t otherwise want to take.

To wit, if Joe Biden were, as a matter of the principle, devoted to defending democracy at all costs, the first thing he would do would be to step aside for some younger, more capable, less radioactiv­e Democrat with a much better chance of beating Trump.

Biden taking this step would be politicall­y electric, underlinin­g how seriously he takes Trump’s challenge to the republic and perhaps proving to some skeptics that his rhetoric about defending democracy is more than simply rhetoric.

Biden made much in his hackneyed speech — it probably could have been written by a precocious eighth-grader in an AP government class — of a painting in the US Capitol of George Washington resigning his commission.

Biden correctly calls it a sublime act, because Washington, who could have been tempted to leverage his position after the Revolution for personal and political gain, gives up power in the service of his ideals instead.

Biden makes the contrast between the statesmans­hip depicted in the painting and Jan. 6, which is fair enough.

It probably doesn’t even occur to him, though, that if a supremely talented military and political leader in his prime could step aside for the good of the whole, it should be much easier for a hack politician who is increasing­ly rickety and unpopular to make a selfless sacrifice for his party and, as he sees it, his country.


No. Of course not. Biden’s defense of democracy has to end with him in the White House again, not some other Democrat who might vanquish Trump easily. (Granted, Kamala Harris would complicate a Bidenstepp­ing-aside scenario, but if the republic is at risk, perhaps Democrats could also be honest about how dreadful Harris is and nominate someone else — although now we are really entering the realm of fantasy.)

OK, so Biden isn’t voluntaril­y going anywhere. But if the stakes this November are so world-historical, surely the defense of democracy should include some moderation on progressiv­e causes that are easy political targets for Trump.

Consider the chaos at the border, which, if Trump makes it back to the White House, will be one of the major reasons.

Would saving the republic make it worth going beyond whatever border deal might be in the offing with congressio­nal Republican­s and admitting that the Trump policies worked and should be restored immediatel­y? Or is allowing millions of illegal immigrants into the country more important than increasing the odds that democracy itself survives beyond 2024?

Finally, if substantiv­e concession­s are too painful, there’s always the possibilit­y of staking out some genuinely new ground in the democracy debate itself. Imagine if Biden said that democracy is so important that no one should be striking his probable opponent from the ballot. Or if he said he now realizes that he, too, let down the constituti­onal order by undertakin­g executive orders that exceeded his authority and that, on second thought, he needs to lead by example in complete faithfulne­ss to the system.

Would that kill him? Evidently, yes.

Biden’s position is that democracy is under such a threat that he — the man with abysmal approval ratings who most Americans believe can’t possibly serve a second term — needs to run again to eke out a narrow, no-margin-for-error victory against the man who embodies the threat.

Faith in our system of government, patriotism itself, supposedly demands nothing else. And if Biden flubs it, which is a real possibilit­y? Then, I guess it’s, “Oh, well, democracy can always be saved again in the 2026 midterms.”

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