Last night, President Joe Biden returned to his earlier claim that his political opponents are fascists seeking to establish authoritarianism in the United States. While the hellish red background is gone from his controversial Philadelphia address, the message remains: a vote for the GOP is a vote for tyranny. Despite polls showing citizens view the President as inciting political unrest and potential violence with such attacks, the theme was quickly picked up and magnified in the media. Presidential historian Michael Beschloss actually suggested on MSNBC that we could be just days away from an authoritarian hellscape if the GOP prevails in midterm elections — raising the specter of our children being taken away and killed.
If you thought that the election was being decided on the top polling issues of the economy, crime, and classic kitchen table issues, think again.
On MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes,” Beschloss went all in on the “democracy-or-death pitch” before the midterms:
“[S]ix nights from now, we could all be discussing violence all over this country. There’s signs that may happen, may God forbid, that losers will be declared winners by fraudulent election officers, or secretary of state candidates, or governors, or state legislatures…
We could be six days away from losing our rule of law, and losing a situation where we have elections that we all can rely on. You know, those are the foundation stones of a democracy…
Joe Biden is saying the same thing tonight, and a historian 50 years from now – if historians are allowed to write in this country and if they are still free publishing houses and a free press – which I’m not certain of – but if that is true, a historian will say what was at stake tonight and this week was the fact whether we will be a democracy in the future, whether our children will be arrested and conceivably killed.”
So much for gas prices. The choice is now voting Democratic or lining up your children in front of a firing squad. (Strangely, it will only be our children and not adults targeted by the roaming GOP goon squads). However, it will all be “off-the-books.” After all, Beschloss warned Hayes, “we both write history, you and I” and he is not certain that “historians [will be] allowed to write in this country” if Republicans gain a majority in Congress.
In other words, there may be no history books, no living children, and no democracy, but feel free to vote your pocketbook, America.
At the same time, Democrats and the J6 Committee are pursuing those who engaged in similar inflammatory rhetoric leading up to the January 6th riot. The airways are also now filled with warnings from leaders such as Hillary Clinton that the midterm elections are about to be “stolen.” Likewise, many are campaigning to ban books by figures like Justice Barrett in the name of protecting free speech.
It is all perfectly Orwellian, but it is not particularly effective. With the over-the-top rhetoric and open bias in the media, the public is tuning out many in the press (which is at record lows in trust). This is becoming a type of primal scream session among friends, cathartic but confined.
President Biden was widely criticized for his Philadelphia speech, but he and others are now doubling down on this type of reckless rhetoric. The likely effect will be to incite further violence and to give license to the most unhinged in our society.