Joe Biden, who came of age in an era of relative bipartisan comity and spent three decades bragging about his conservative record in the U.S. Senate, walked right up to the truth-telling line last week.
He recently called Trump-style Republicans – also known as all Republicans – "semi-fascist." This is a stunning departure from the way Biden has talked lovingly of Republicans throughout his life in Washington, joining congressional conservatives in rolling back the New Deal and getting mad about Bill Clinton receiving all the credit. In no universe did I think it was possible that Joe Biden, two years into his presidential term, would even toy with the idea of labeling the American right as fascist. I was sure we were in for at least four years of Obama-style spinelessness.
But Dark Brandon did it, sort of. He almost did it, I should say. And he might still go ahead and say the unsayable in a country that has prided itself on playing political between the 20s – or at least pretending to. Biden on Thursday night gave a speech on the existential dangers of Trumpism – the latest sign that his eyes are open to what is actually going on here.
“They’re a threat to our very democracy,” Biden said after a half century of putting in a good-faith effort to negotiate with right-wing senators who had no intention of playing along. “They refuse to accept the will of the people. They embrace political violence. ... In this moment, those of you who love this country ... we must be stronger, more determined and more committed to saving America than the MAGA Republicans are to destroying America.”
Biden is not playing the good faith-bad faith game anymore. The good-faith approach to handling Trumpism would be ludicrous pleas to find common ground with the monster who want nothing but to seize power and bring the pain. That is not what we've seen from Biden over the past couple months.
This is a critically important and completely unforeseen turn of events for a guy who seemed, at best, like a placeholder between fascist, anti-democratic administrations bent on turning the US into a banana republic (if having multiple presidents from the same families doesn't make us a banana republic already). Biden is finally rejecting good faith and embracing the no-faith model I wrote about a few weeks ago – the approach we've seen from insurgent Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman as he goes up against the Oprah-created fascist clown Dr. Oz.
Fetterman and his campaign, steeped in online broken brain culture and refusing to accept the learned helplessness of a previous generation of Democratic candidates, have gone all in on the no-faith approach to beating the evil billionaire TV doctor. Having seen the future of American politics – one in which election stealing is commonplace and election denying is a key plank of the Republican Party – Biden has apparently awoken to the horrors many of us have seen plainly since 2016.
I take no pleasure in giving credit to Biden, who I've despised for my entire adult life. I pledged to never vote for anyone who green lighted the Iraq war, the most catastrophic an immoral Senate vote of the 21st century. I had to break that promise and cast a vote for Biden in 2020. I hated it. I felt unclean. Maybe that's just politics. If it is, politics fucking sucks.
Biden claimed in 2019 that he decided to launch a presidential bid after seeing the nightmare that was the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017, where fascists maimed and murdered while cops stood by and watched and the president gave his tacit approval. So it was clear that Biden had some sense of the political hellscape on which we were teetering.
We're still teetering. Probably Biden can't permanently stop the far right from seizing power and recreating the country in their hideous image. But it's encouraging to see the old man display a backbone, and to refuse to engage the right's bad faith with good faith. We can be grateful that Biden sees the modern, radicalized right for what it is. We couldn't say the same of Barack Obama.
Dark Brandon, our faithless president.
Follow Denny Carter on Twitter at @CDCarter13.