Protecting democracy and freedom may be a viable formula for President Biden in 2024

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

At a moment when fewer Americans believe that Trump bears responsibility for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection than in 2021, President Biden is right to center his opening campaign pitch on democracy. But labeling Trump a threat alone isn’t going to cut it. 

In his speech Friday on the eve of the third anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection during which thousands of rioters broke into the Capitol, assaulted officers and threatened the lives of every staffer and employee in the building, President Biden declared that political violence has no place in our democracy, and he called out how Trump is committed to revenge and dictatorship if he wins re-election. Biden went on to say, “The choice is clear. Donald Trump’s campaign is about him. Not America. Not you. Donald Trump’s campaign is obsessed with the past, not the future. He’s willing to sacrifice our democracy, put himself in power.”

This direct call out on the national stage forces the public to confront the political violence and the continued fallout from the violent attack that Trump incited, and it counters all of the right-wing efforts to rewrite history. While 55% of Americans believe that Jan. 6 was an attack on our democracy that should never be forgotten, there’s been a sharp decline in people who believe that Trump is to blame — including a 6-point decrease among all Americans, and a 13-point drop among Republicans. Even after all of the evidence, video footage and criminal prosecutions, Republicans don’t believe that Trump is to blame for Jan. 6. In fact, they think that the evidence feeds into the conspiracy theories and propaganda they’ve been fed by extremist right-wing media outlets for the past three years. Considering that Republicans have elected more white supremacists and election deniers since Jan. 6, and the current speaker of the House, Rep, Mike Johnson, R-La., was an architect of the efforts to overturn the 2020 election, none of this is unsurprising. But thankfully, 90% of Democrats are firm in their understanding that Trump committed a crime, and Independents largely side with them. 

Given that level of awareness and acceptance of the truth, President Biden’s mid-speech pivot towards the broad concept of “freedom” was smart and essential. By mentioning the freedom to vote, the freedom of choice, the freedom of a fair economic shot and the freedom to read books, Biden deftly connected Trump as a threat to democracy with the day-to-day issues that voters care about. The economy, the cost of living, abortion access, voting rights and more are all front of mind for regular people, arguably more so than the concept of democracy. 

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Yes, democracy was a winning closing message in the 2022 midterms, but pairing that with the fact that voters have turned out across demographic and partisan lines for abortion rights since Roe was overturned and that voters are more engaged when their bank accounts are in better shape shows that the Biden campaign is aware of voters’ reality. If the campaign centers that connection, it will undoubtedly help with engaging Black and brown people, and young people, who have been peeling off from Biden at alarming rates. 

While these are the very demographics that helped elect Biden with wide margins of support in 2020, recent polling from USA Today and Suffolk University shows a significant drop in support as 67% of registered Black voters support Biden, down from 87% in 2020. Additionally, 35% of registered Latino voters support Biden, and 33% of registered young people support Biden, and both of those figures have fallen behind Trump’s support. 

As we are still 11 months out from election day, and a lot of people haven’t tuned in just yet, there is a lot of ground to cover, and the “democracy plus” approach may be a viable formula for 2024. It’s the balance between the existential threat and the daily challenges people are experiencing in real time that has appeal. Of course, it won’t solve all of Biden’s problems, like the ongoing bombing of Gaza and Biden’s moves to send more resources to Israel without conditions, without congressional approval and without public support. But it is a start that could set him up for the “choice election” that Democrats hope this boils down to, similar to 2020.

Juanita Tolliver is the host of Crooked Media’s “What A Day” Podcast and an MSNBC political analyst.

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The article is an op-ed expressing the author’s views on President Biden’s opening campaign pitch centered on democracy and addressing Trump’s alleged commitment to revenge and dictatorship if re-elected. The author discusses the decline in the percentage of Americans who believe Trump is to blame for the Jan. 6 insurrection, particularly among Republicans. President Biden’s shift towards emphasizing freedom in his speech is seen as a smart tactic to connect Trump as a threat to democracy with day-to-day issues that voters care about. The article highlights the drop in support for Biden among Black, Latino, and young voters and suggests that the “democracy plus” approach may be a viable formula for the 2024 election. The article acknowledges that while this approach may not solve all of Biden’s problems, it could set him up for a “choice election” similar to 2020. The author also mentions Biden’s ongoing foreign policy challenges, such as the bombing of Gaza, as potential issues for his campaign.

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