“Too much of what is happening in our country today is not normal. Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” President Joe Biden said this evening in an address in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were created
The speech, which is presented below as both a video and a transcript, bluntly assessed the MAGA Republicans (MAGA, an acronym for “Make America Great Again,” Trump’s campaign slogan), though careful to distinguish them from mainstream Republicans. “MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards. Backwards, to an America where there is no right to choose. No right to privacy. No right to contraception. No right to marry who you love. They promote authoritarian leaders and they fan the flames of political violence.” But Biden also expressed optimism for the future, and touted the accomplishments of his administration.
The 25-minute speech begins in the video at about 17:45
My fellow Americans… I speak to you tonight from sacred ground, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This is where America made its Declaration of Independence to the world more than two centuries ago. And with an idea unique among nations — that in America, we are all created equal. This is where the United States Constitution was written and debated. This is where we set in motion the most extraordinary experiment of self-government the world has ever known, with three simple words — We, the people. We, the people.
These two documents and the ideas they embody — equality and democracy — are the rock upon which this nation is built. They are how we became the greatest nation on earth. They are why, for more than two centuries, America has been a beacon to the world.
As i stand here tonight, equality and democracy are under assault. We do ourselves no favor to pretend otherwise.
So tonight, i come to this place where it all began. To speak as clearly as I can to the nation. About the threats we face. About the power we have in our own hands to meet these threats. And about the incredible future that lies in front of us, if only we choose it.
We must never forget, we, the people, are the true heirs of the American experiment that began more than two centuries ago. We, the people, have burning inside of each of us the flame of liberty that was lit here at Independence Hall. A flame that lit our way through abolition, the civil war, suffrage, the Great Depression, world wars, civil rights — that sacred flame still burns. Now, in our time, as we build an America that is more prosperous, free, and just, that is the work of my presidency. A nation iIbelieve in with my whole soul.
“MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution”
But first, we must be honest with each other, and with ourselves. Too much of what is happening in our country today is not normal. Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.
Now, i want to be very clear… Not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans are MAGA Republicans or have an extreme ideology. I know, because I have been able to work with these mainstream Republicans. But there is no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven by, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country.
These are hard things, but i am an American president. Not a president of red America or blue America, but of all America. And i believe it is my duty to tell the truth, no matter how difficult, no matter how painful. And here, in my view, is what is true — MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution. They do not believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people. They refuse to accept the results of a free election. And they are working right now, as I speak, in state after state, to give power to decide elections in America to partisans and cronies, empowering election deniers, undermining democracy itself.
MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards. Backwards, to an America where there is no right to choose. No right to privacy. No right to contraception. No right to marry who you love. They promote authoritarian leaders and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country.
. They look at the mob that stormed the United States Capitol on January 6, brutally attacking law enforcement, not as insurrectionists, who placed a dagger to the throat of our democracy, but they look at them as patriots, and they see their MAGA failure to stop the peaceful transfer of power after the 2020 election as preparation for the 2022 and 2024 elections.
They have tried everything last time to nullify the votes of 81 million people. This time, they are determined to succeed in thwarting the will of the people. That is why respected conservatives like federal circuit court judge Michael Luttig has called Trump and extreme MAGA Republicans a clear and present danger to our democracy.
The threat to American democracy is real. I want to say as clearly as we can, we are not bystanders on this attack on democracy. There are far more Americans, far more Americans, from every background and belief, that reject the extreme MAGA ideology than those that accept it.
Folks, it is in our power, it is in our hands, yours and mine, to stop this assault on American democracy. I believe America at an inflection point. One of those moments that determine the shape of everything that is to come after. And now, America must choose, to move forward or to move backwards. To build a future or obsess about the past. To be a nation of hope and unity and optimism. Or a nation of fear, division, and of darkness. MAGA Republicans have made their choice. They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos. They live not in the light of truth, but in the shadow of lies.
But together, together, we can choose a different path. We can choose a better path. Forward, to the future. A future of possibility. A future of dream and hope. And we are on that path, moving ahead. I know this nation. I know you, the American people. I know your courage. I know your hearts. And i know our history. This is a nation that honors our constitution. We do not reject it. This is a nation that believes in the rule of law, we do not refute its. This is a nation that respects free and fair elections. We honor the will of the people. We do not deny it. And this is a nation that rejects violence, as a political tool. We do not encourage violence. We are Americans that believe in honesty and decency and respect for others. Liberty, justice for all, possibilities.
We are still at our core a democracy. And yet history tells us that blind loyalty to a single leader and the willingness to engage in political violence is fatal to democracy. For a long time, we told ourselves that American democracy is guaranteed. But it’s not. We have to defend it. Protect it. Stand up for it. Each and every one of us.
That is why tonight i am asking our nation to come together, unite behind the single purpose of defending our democracy, regardless of your ideology. We are all called to duty and conscience to confront extremists who put their own pursuit of power above all else. Democrats, independents, mainstream Republicans, we must be strong, more determined, more committed to saving American democracy MAGA Republicans are to destroying American democracy.
“There is no place for political violence in America”
Today, there are dangers around us we cannot allow to prevail. We hear, you heard it, more and more talk about violence as an acceptable political tool. In this country. It’s not. It can never be an acceptable tool. So i want to say this, plain and simple, there is no place for political violence in America, period. None. You saw law enforcement brutally attacked on january 6. We have seen election officials subject to intimidation and threats. And can you believe it, FBI agents, just doing their jobs as directed, facing threats to their own lives, from their own fellow citizens. On top of that, there are public figures today… predicting, calling for mass violence and rioting in the streets. This is inflammatory. It is dangerous. It is against the rule of law.
And we, the people, must say, this is not who we are.
Ladies and gentlemen, we can’t be pro-insurrectionist and pro-American. They are incompatible. We cannot allow violence to be normalized in this country. It is wrong. We have to reject political violence with all the law and clarity and conviction this nation can muster — now. We cannot let the integrity of our elections be undermined. For that is a path to chaos.
Look, i know politics can be fierce and mean and nasty in America. I get it. I believe in the give-and-take of politics and disagreement and debate and dissent. We are a big, complicated country. But democracy endures only if we respect the guardrails of the republic, only if we the people accept the results of free and fair elections. Only if we the people see politics not as total war, but mediation of our differences.
“You cannot love your country only when you win”
Democracy cannot survive when one side believes there are only two outcomes to an election, either they win or they were cheated. And that is where the MAGA Republicans are today. They don’t understand what every patriotic American knows, you cannot love your country only when you win. It is fundamental. American democracy only works if we choose to respect the rule of law and the institutions that were set up in this chamber behind me. Only if we respect our legitimate political differences.
I will not stand by and watch the will of the people be overturned by wild conspiracy theories and claims of fraud, i will not stand by and see people simply refuse to accept that they lost. I will not stand by and watch the most fundamental freedom in this country — the freedom to vote, and have your vote counted — be taken from you and the American people.
Look, as your president, i will defend our democracy with every fiber in my being, and I am asking every American to join me.
Throughout our history, America’s often made the greatest progress, coming out of some of our darkest moments, like you are hearing. I believe we can and must do that again. And we are. MAGA Republicans Republicans look at America and see carnage and darkness and despair. They spread fear and lies, sold for profit and power.
What the Biden Administration has achieved
But i see a different America, with an unlimited future. An America that is about to take off. I hope you see it as well. Just look around. I believe we can lift America from the depths of covid, so we passed the biggest economic recovery package since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and we have more to go. I believe we can build a better America, so we passed the biggest infrastructure investment since president Dwight D Eisenhower and we have embarked on rebuilding the nation’s roads, highways, bridges, water system, high-speed internet, railroads. I believe we can make america safer, so we passed the most significant gun safety laws since President Clinton. I believe that we can go from being the highest cost of prescriptions in the world to make and prescription drugs and health care more affordable, so we passed the most significant health care reform since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act. And i believe we could create a clean energy future and save the planet. So we passed the most important climate initiative ever, ever, ever.
The cynics and the critics tell us nothing can get done. But they are wrong. There is not a single thing America cannot do. Not a single thing beyond our capacity, if we do it together. It is never easy. But we are proving that America, no matter how long the road, progress does come.
I know the last few years have been tough. But today, Xovid no longer controls our lives. More Americans are working than ever. Businesses are growing, our schools are open. Millions of Americans have been lifted out of poverty. Millions will now get what they deserved in compensation. The future will be made in America.
No matter what the white supremacists and the extremists say, i made a bet on you, the american people, and that bit is paying off — proving that from the darkness of covid, gun violence, insurrection, we can see the light. Light is now visible. Light that will guide us forward. Not only in words, but in actions. Actions for you. For your children. Or your grandchildren. For America.
Even in this moment, with all the challenges we face, i give you my word as a Biden that I have never been more optimistic about America’s future, we are going to end cancer as we know it, mark my words, create millions of new jobs and a clean energy economy. We are going to think big and make the 21st century another American century. Because the world needs us to.
That’s where we need to focus our energy, not attacks, not on divisive culture wars, not on the politics of grievance, but on a future we can build together.
The MAGE Republicans believe that for them to succeed, everyone else has to fail. They believe America — not like i believe about America — i believe America is big enough for all of us to succeed, and that is a nation that we are building, a nation where no one is left behind.
“We are in a battle for the soul of this nation”
I ran for president because I believe we are in a battle for the soul of this nation. I still believe that to be true. I believe the soul is the breath, the life, and the essence of who we are. The soul is what makes us us. The soul of America is designed by the sacred proposition that all are created equal in the image of God, that all are to be treated with decency, dignity, and respect. That all deserve justice and a shot at life and prosperity. And that democracy must be defended, for democracy makes all these things possible.
Folks, it is up to us. Democracy begins with what we preserved, and we the people have heart, the character, optimism that is tested, but indoors, courage that digs deep when we need it, and empathy to deal with democracy, the willingness to see each other, not as enemies, but as fellow Americans.
Look, our democracy is imperfect, it always has been. Those folks on the other side there are entitled to be outrageous. This is a democracy. Good manners is nothing they have ever suffered from. It is most likely to come to pass in a democracy. We have never truly realized the aspirations of our founding fathers, but every generation has opened those doors a little bit wider to include more people that have been excluded before.
My fellow Americans, America is an idea. The most powerful idea in the history of the world. And a beat in the hearts of the people in this country. It beats in all of our hearts, that unites America, it is the American creed, the idea that America guarantees that everyone be treated with dignity. To give hate no safe harbor. It installs in everyone the belief that no matter where you start life, there is nothing you can’t achieve.
That is who we are. That is what we stand for. That is what we believe. And that is precisely what we are doing. Opening doors. Creating possibilities. Focusing on the future. And we are only just beginning.
“So speak up, speak up, get engaged, and vote, vote, vote.”
Our task is to make our nation free and fair, just and strong, noble and whole. And this work is the work of democracy. The work of this generation. It is the work of our time, for all time. You can’t afford to leave anyone on the sidelines. We need everyone to do their part. So speak up, speak up, get engaged, and vote, vote, vote.
And if we do our duty, if we do our duty, in 2022 and beyond, then ageS still to come will say, we, all of us here, we kept the faith, we preserved democracy, we heeded are words — our words, our instincts, OUR angels. We proved that in all its imperfections, America is still a beacon to the world. An ideal to be realized. A promise to be kept. There is nothing more important. Nothing more American. That is our soul. That is who we truly are. And that is who we must always be. I have no doubt, none, that this is who we will be. And we will come together as a nation. To secure our democracy. That for the next 200 years we will have what we have had the last 200 years, the greatest nation on the face of the earth. We just have to remember we are, we are the United States of America. The United States of America. And may God protect our nation, and may God protect all those who stand watch over our democracy. God bless you all. Democracy, thank you.