WASHINGTON — As former President Donald Trump maintains his grip on the Republican Party and further spreads conspiracies about the 2020 election, some Democrats and progressive activists are urging President Joe Biden to speak out more forcefully against his predecessor.
During his first nine months in office, Biden has largely avoided attacking Trump by name, even as he has broadly criticized those sowing doubt about the electoral process and pushed for measures to safeguard voting rights.
Some Democrats agree with Biden’s posture, arguing that he should not provide oxygen to Trump and his baseless claims of election fraud when he is no longer in power. But others in the party say Biden should be more focused on combating efforts they see as undermining democracy, especially as Trump ramps up his political activity ahead of the 2022 and 2024 elections.
“The Jan. 6 insurrection was the DEFCON 1 moment for the Biden administration and for American democracy,” Democratic strategist and pollster Fernand Amandi said. “And by not elevating that to the most important focus of the country in the administration today — which is the efforts by the Republican Party and President Trump and Trumpism to end American democracy — we dilute and diminish the very existential nature of what that threat represents.”
Since leaving office, Trump has sought to assert his control over the GOP. He has held rallies around the country, worked to defeat Republican lawmakers who voted for his impeachment and has left the door open to another presidential bid in 2024.
Some Democrats say Trump’s continued presence on the national stage has made it more urgent for Biden to take a harder line against him and his ideology.
“There is no 2024, if we lose the Congress in 2022,” Amandi said. “You cannot trust Republicans to be good actors to protect democracy.”
Democratic activists, anti-Trump Republicans and legal experts also say they are increasingly concerned about Trump-inspired efforts to replace state and local election officials who certified last year’s election in key battleground states.
“If Joe Biden thinks that he can wake up in 2023 and run the same election as last time and that things will turn out the same, he’s not paying enough attention to the facts that are changing on the ground, where if the exact same election were held in 2024, with the exact same attempts to overturn it, the people who stood up and protected us will no longer be there with them,” said Ian Bassin, co-founder and executive director of the nonprofit group Protect Democracy.
TAKING ON TRUMP