Many of us (including some Democrats) have criticized President Joe Biden for his inflammatory speech in Philadelphia that cast Republicans as “threats to the foundations of our republic.” I also objected to the use of Marines at the political speech like nutcracker props flanking the President as he accused millions of their fellow Americans of being enemies of the state. Now, a Trafalgar poll shows that a majority of Americans believe that Biden tried to “incite conflict” with his speech.
The poll asked respondents, “What is your opinion of President Biden’s recent primetime address to the nation in which he accused his political opponents of representing ‘an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic’?”
Fifty-six percent of the voters said that the speech “represents a dangerous escalation in rhetoric and is designed to incite conflict amounts Americans.”
For many, the speech was the final refutation of Biden’s pledge to be a unifier as president after two years of highly partisan and divisive actions. It was also a failure if intended to rally independents and others to his side. Yet, the speech may have had more modest objectives. The same 35 percent of hardcore supporters liked the speech and Biden may have decided, again, to play to that base.
Whatever the reason, the speech added to the rage of our politics. For his part, Donald Trump quickly bulldozed any moral high ground after the speech by denouncing Biden as an “enemy of the state” and calling the FBI “vicious monsters.”
With the leaders of both parties engaging in such rhetoric, it is little surprise that a majority of the public now believes that there will be an increase in political violence.
We are experiencing a near total failure of leadership in our country. Politicians on both sides are fueling rage for personal and political advantage. It is a dangerous and craven form of demagoguery. James Freeman Clarke once said that “a politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation.” We have far too many politicians today and far too few statesmen at an increasingly perilous time for our country.