Biden warns Americans to protect democracy as Trump embraces dictatorial rhetoric

Donald Trump. Dec. 2, 2023. (Photo AP/Matthew Putney, Arquivo)

President Joe Biden warned in remarks at a campaign event on Dec. 5 that American democracy is under threat from former President Donald Trump and the Republican Party.

Biden spoke at a reception in Weston, Massachusetts.

“Donald Trump and his MAGA Republicans are determined to destroy American democracy,” Biden said. He took note of recent statements in which Trump has promised “retribution” and his repeated lies claiming that he won the 2020 presidential election.

Biden added: “If he’s returned to office, he said he was going to go after all those who oppose him, root out when he called the ‘vermin’ in America — not a word often used except in Nazi Germany — a specific phrase with a specific meaning. And it echoes the language heard out of Germany in the ‘30s.”

“Every generation of Americans has had to fight to protect our democracy in some way or another. Now it’s our time, our turn. We need — indeed, we need every American — Democrat, Republican, independent — who loves democracy to join us in 2024,” he said.

On the same day, Trump embraced the notion that he would operate like a dictator in a second term.

According to the Guardian, in a town hall from Iowa that aired on Fox News, host Sean Hannity asked Trump, “Under no circumstances, you are promising America tonight, you would never abuse power as retribution against anybody?”

“Except for day one,” Trump replied. He added, “I love this guy. He says, ‘You’re not going to be a dictator, are you?’ I said: ‘No, no, no, other than day one. We’re closing the border and we’re drilling, drilling, drilling. After that, I’m not a dictator.’”

Julie Chavez Rodriguez, the manager of the Biden-Harris presidential campaign, responded to Trump’s remarks in a statement: “Donald Trump has been telling us exactly what he will do if he’s reelected and tonight he said he will be a dictator on day one. Americans should believe him.”

Trump has previously embraced dictatorial rhetoric, and his political allies have circulated plans that would center the U.S. government around Trump’s personal desires and interests rather than established law and tradition.

In June, Trump said that in a second term he would appoint a special prosecutor to “to go after the most corrupt president in the history of the USA, Joe Biden, the entire Biden crime family, & all others involved with the destruction of our elections, borders, & country itself” in a post on his Truth Social social media account.

In a Veterans Day speech in November, Trump said,

 “We pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country that lie and steal and cheat on elections.”

The New York Times reported in November that in a second term, Trump is planning to implement policies that would result in roundups of undocumented immigrants, detention in camps, and eventual mass deportation.

Allies of Trump at the conservative Heritage Foundation have circulated a plan called “Project 2025” that would purge thousands of existing federal employees from the government and replace them with appointees based on their support for Trump’s ideological agenda.

Trump is currently being prosecuted in state and federal courts on charges of attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

Trump and 18 others associated with him were charged and indicted in Georgia in a scheme to get a false slate of the state’s electors into the Electoral College to vote for Trump instead of for Biden, who won 49.25% of the vote there in 2020. Three lawyers affiliated with Trump who were charged in the case – Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell, and Kenneth Chesebro – have pleaded guilty since the indictment.

Trump was also indicted by the Department of Justice on four felony counts relating to the 2020 election and the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, including charges of conspiring to defraud the United States, conspiring and attempting to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiring to defraud voters.

“The attack on our nation’s capital on January 6, 2021, was an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy. As described in the indictment, it was fueled by lies. Lies by the defendant targeted at obstructing a bedrock function of the U.S. government, the nation’s process of collecting, counting, and certifying the results of the presidential election,” special counsel Jack Smith said in an Aug. 1 statement.Trump was impeached in 2021 by Congress on charges of inciting the attack on the Capitol, becoming the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice.

Trump was impeached in 2019 on the charges of abusing power and tampering with witnesses, after he attempted to use the presidency to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rivals. In both cases, a Republican-led Senate voted against removing Trump from office.