When Your President Declares You the Enemy

When Your President Declares You the Enemy By TOM GILSON for The Stream

The Red Wave didn’t happen. America gave Joe Biden better than he expected. There’s a lot still unknown about this election, but that much has already materialized. The question now is what he’ll do with it.

My prediction is not a hopeful one. I think he’ll see it as a vote of confidence, an endorsement of his policies, a message that he should keep on cruising the same direction.

That would be a skewed, inaccurate read of the American mood, but no more than his answer when asked about his son Hunter’s legal troubles: “I think the American people want to get past that.” If only some of America counts as “the American people,” then he could be right about that.

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Biden’s Belligerence

That, too, is skewed, but there is evidence he sees America that way. On September 1, with an ominous Red Square behind him, he labeled “MAGA Republicans” as “extremists, and (echoing his January 6 speech) a dagger at the throat of democracy.” They are “a clear and present danger to democracy.”

Under former U.S. case law, that last phrase could easily have meant these people ought not be allowed free speech rights. It’s still a reason to deny the legal right to own firearms in many states. Americans may connect it with justification for war. I doubt Biden’s speech writers were unaware of that. And when authorities see a man holding a dagger at someone’s throat, they’re legally justified in killing him.

‘Enemies of the State’: You and Me?

A threat to American democracy is a threat to America itself. Richard Nixon’s infamous “enemies list” was nothing in comparison. He knew they were his enemies, not America’s. Joe Biden, in contrast, clearly sees these “MAGA Republicans” as enemies of the state.

Who then are they? Biden was vague on that at first, and he’s tried back-pedaling lately, trying to tell us he means only a small minority of Republicans. It didn’t work. By his own definition, he’s talking about 40% of Americans. That’s how many of us still doubt his election in 2020 was clean and clear. Our own president considers forty percent of Americans to be enemies within.

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