President Joe Biden is known for greeting even strangers as friends and for an incredible ability to empathize with the pain of others. He is not a fiery speaker, unlike his predecessor, which is why Biden’s words and attitude in two recent speeches deliver a powerful punch.

One came last week on the anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. The second took place Tuesday in Georgia where Biden exhorted Congress to pass voting rights laws. Let’s hope he did not leave the fiery Biden for too late.

In his speech about the insurrection, Biden made it clear the United States must act to save democracy. He forcefully attacked the actions of his predecessor, laying the actions of the mob trying to stop certification of the presidential election at Donald Trump’s feet.

On Jan. 6, 2021, the U.S. hit an uncomfortable milestone, Biden said: “For the first time in our history, a president had not just lost an election, he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol.”

Biden made clear the intent of the mob: “This wasn’t a group of tourists. This was an armed insurrection. They weren’t looking to uphold the will of the people. They were looking to deny the will of the people.”

And the mob still could deny the will of the people, not through violent protest but by passing laws restricting voting rights.

Here’s what Republicans did after the Jan. 6 insurrection, he said: “Instead of looking at the election results from 2020 and saying they need new ideas or better ideas to win more votes, the former president and his supporters have decided the only way for them to win is to suppress your vote and subvert our elections.”

Congress — and it must happen at the federal level — can prevent such a mockery of the American system of voting. For that to happen, however, members of the Senate must be willing to change the rules of their body and pass essential voting rights legislation by a simple majority.

That was the focus of Biden’s second consequential speech in a week. For months, he said, he has been talking to U.S. senators about the need to pass federal legislation to protect voting rights. Right now, without Republican support, the legislation cannot pass the Senate.

The rules require 60 votes to move legislation along, which won’t happen in an evenly divided Senate — it is 50-50 Republican/Democrat, with Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris available to break ties. Therefore, the rules must change.

The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as well as require areas with systemic histories of passing discriminatory voting laws to receive pre-clearance from the Justice Department before passing new voting laws. The Freedom to Vote Act would prevent gerrymandering, offer protection for poll workers, establish a national voting day and require states to offer at least two weeks of early voting.

“I will not flinch,” Biden told the crowd in Atlanta, as he pounded the podium to underscore the importance of ensuring all citizens have equal access to the vote.

Should Congress move to pass these laws, citizens would not have to worry whether their state is intent on denying them a voice. It’s long been a mystery why Biden and the Democrats did not make voting rights a higher priority — without free and fair elections, democracy in the United States is at risk.

We are proud of the tradition of the people choosing elected representatives, who then pass laws to govern the nation. But elections are hardly worthwhile if they are designed to block the votes of large groups of people.

The “big lie” of 2020 is that the election was rigged and that Trump won. That’s what the mob at the Capitol believed. Without laws that protect the right to vote across the country, the erosion of democracy could happen at the ballot box instead of insurrection. A fiery Biden made the case for action. Now, it’s up to Congress, specifically the Senate. Protecting the United States and its tradition of representative democracy is what matters right now. Fiery Biden has it right: Democracy is at stake.

(13) comments

Mark Ortiz

Let me preface my comments by saying I'm anti-elitist, regardless of your party affiliation and Trump doesn’t care about any of his poor struggling loyal supporters 1. Biden is a shell and to those that would call his speech fiery or powerful or inspiring, is being disingenuous. Then again, redefining meaning of words is where we are at. Bill Clinton, “It depends on what the meaning of the word is, is.” 2. This was NOT an insurrection in as much as it was a riot. This bunch of hooligans only got as far as they did because their ideology was shared, for the most part, with the yahoos in charge of security. Why would Law enforcement unleash the dogs on all them Blue Lives Matter flags? Real Capitol security is only called on when the protestors are of a different shade, sexual identity/orientation, or are wearing pink knitted hats. 3. Let’s play this out. Even if they did kidnap Pence, Pelosi, or another elected official (s), they would now have to deal with the weight of the US Military and/or Law Enforcement. We are talking a VP and House Speaker. For God's sake, look what they did in Waco. What do you think they would do with the zip tie guy? A coup was NOT attempted. The fear mongering from the dying mainstream exposes their corporate greed. CNN and MSNBC are bleeding out since cash cow Agent Orange The Donald lost to Sleepy Joe. 4. To the Our View SFNM editors, it's a stupid headline. Democracy? Democracy for who? When I think Biden, I don't think "democracy for the country and it’s residence". I think of a lifelong elected corporate self-serving shill who’s creepy around young females, oh and Tara Reade. I think Anita Hill. I think about how his and HRC’s ego, their ilk, and influence that twice wrecked Bernie Sanders REAL campaign for Democracy for the poor, the marginalized, regardless of their cultural identity, twice. (Obama “asking” Buttigieg to drop out of the primaries put an exclamation point on what the elite’s real agenda is). More recently, I think of Joe’s acquiescing to Big Pharma in prescription drug negotiations. I hear Joe talking out of both sides of his mouth on student debt (yes, he could do it by executive order). I hear him saying he’ll be the most Union friendly President in modern history yet not marching nor using the bully pulpit to support of those teachers, nurses, hospital workers, grocery, gig workers, coal miners, Kellogg’s workers currently on strike, Not a peep!

Emily Hartigan

Great speech, because he's talking about the voter suppression that the Koch brothers openly strategized and the NC courts, for example, found to be "surgically precise" attempts to stop people of color from having their votes count. Check out Rehnquist and his AZ work to suppress voting - not by whites, right? Long ago, election manipulation did create a questionable win - JFK over Nixon. Even Nixon conceded graciously. This current attack, from top to bottom (very bottom) on fair elections may kill us all if we don't invest in a process where we might lose, fair and square.

Chris Mechels

Why don't we strive for "Democracy" here in New Mexico, where the Trifecta runs roughshod over the opposition?? Ask the Republicans of our state about "democracy", and the "rights" of the minority. Our Governor won't abide by our laws, and the Attorney General, Balderas, won't enforce our laws. So, even the laws passed by the Legislature have little effect. How about "Rule of Law", which seems forgotten here in our state. The New Mexican ignores all this of course, but applauds a "fiery" Biden instead. We are in a Dark place, getting darker under Biden.

Joseph Tafoya

Biden's speech yesterday was full of lies and misleading comments. He told Georgia black students at Moorehouse college that during the civil rights struggle he was arrested. This came from him directly. Quote “I did not walk in the shoes of generation of students who walked these grounds. But I walked other grounds because I’m so old I was there as well. They think I’m kidding, man. It seems like yesterday, the first time I got arrested.” Unquote. It never happened. One of his claims was that Republicans are trying to suppress the vote by barring people from access to food and water while waiting to vote. What he did not say is the new Georgia law allows voters access to water and attempts to shorten voting lines. Georgia law prevents political groups from providing food and water to voters in line, because it could be considered a form of electioneering, but requires that water be made available to voters from a common receptacle. Biden made several other false statements, including claiming that former President Donald Trump sought to win through violence what he had lost at the ballot box, though there is no evidence he ever used violence — quite the opposite. It was Biden and then-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) who supported the unrest of the summer of 2020, with Harris joining a protest that had been violent just hours before outside the White House, and Biden referring to rioters as “peaceful protesters.”

Richard Reinders

Democracy demands honesty, not exaggeration. Bloated claims from both side does not serve the public’s interest.

Mike Johnson

[thumbup]Fiery, biased, partisan rhetoric will not move the needle, and anyone who thinks this old, washed up partisan politican is going to excite and energize anyone, or unite us.(or even his party in the Senate) is delusional. Even Stacey and the Black leaders in Georgia know better, and boycotted his speech...

Emily Koyama

And even Al Sharpton said the speech went too far....I guess it was "fiery" in a way. There was a bunch of smoke being blown you know where.....

Russell Scanlon

If the GOP is so confident of it’s message why does it seek to suppress voting? Simple question. Where is the widespread voter fraud?

Joseph Tafoya

Prove it! Give us one example that the GOP is supporting voter suppression. Just making a bold statement does not make it so without facts to back it up.

Emily Hartigan

One drop box in all of Milwaukee. GOP state legislature.

One drop box in all of Houston. GOP legislature.

Mike Johnson

Ms. Hartigan, you should read the facts: "In Warren’s home state of Massachusetts, early voting lasts 11 days, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The new Georgia law, by contrast, expanded the number of early voting days to 17, mandating the polls stay open for early voting on an additional Saturday and leaving open the option for counties to conduct early Sunday voting as well.

Meanwhile, Biden’s home state of Delaware has no in-person early voting."

All D legislatures and Governors. The truth shows the hypocrisy and lies.....

Emily Hartigan

Hey, Mike. what about Houston and Milwaukee?

Emily Koyama

Dropboxes are almost unheard of in every other Western democracy..... So are absentee ballots.

All but a couple of countries (Austrailia and UK...the Uk is going to require it soon) have voter voter photo ID requirements, or biometric/barcode systems at polling places...

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