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Biden's 'soul of the nation' speech brought to you by Trump

For a half-decade, President Biden has used the "soul of the nation" phrase to describe the danger posed by the MAGA movement. Thursday's speech is no different.


Republicans have been up in arms lately over recent remarks President Joe Biden made characterizing the MAGA movement as “semi-fascism.”

Listening to Republicans whine, you’d think the suggestion was either A) inaccurate, and B) new. 

And it’s neither.

In Thursday's speech, Biden detailed how "MAGA Republicans," as he calls them, have sought to strip Americans of their human and civil rights, from their bodily autonomy, to their ability to vote, to their right to privacy.

From the moment Biden launched his presidential campaign in 2019, he hasn’t minced words when it comes to his thoughts about the dangers Trump and his followers pose to the country. 

Biden has portrayed himself as a unifier of sorts, but that needn't mean placating people who want to destroy American democracy.

In fact, Biden’s prime-time speech on Thursday, focused on the philosophical and existential battle for the “soul of the nation,” stems from phrasing he used to condemn Trump and his followers a half-decade ago. 

Biden used the phrase in an op-ed he wrote for The Atlantic after 2017’s deadly, white supremacist riot in Charlottesville, Virginia. That piece discussed what the country stood to lose if the rioters, many of whom supported Trump, succeeded in their scare tactics: 

In Charlottesville, that long trail emerged once again into plain view not only for America, but for the whole world to see. The crazed, angry faces illuminated by torches. The chants echoing the same anti-Semitic bile heard across Europe in the 1930s. The neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and white supremacists emerging from dark rooms and remote fields and the anonymity of the web into the bright light of day on the streets of a historically significant American city. If it wasn’t clear before, it’s clear now: We are living through a battle for the soul of this nation.

Biden invoked this same exact passage in the ad he used to launch his presidential campaign, and I find these things important to mention amid the cacophony of conservative kvetching over Biden's "semi-fascism" remarks.

Have GOPers been so blind with rage for the past six years they didn’t hear Biden explicitly condemning their dear leader and his followers?

Or perhaps, were they so enthralled with their own adolescent trolling of Biden that they neglected to listen to the words he’s been uttering? After all, what can be interpreted from a fight for the "soul of the nation" other than a belief that your opponents will fatally wound the country? Sure, Biden has portrayed himself as a unifier of sorts, but that needn't mean placating people who want to destroy American democracy. Republicans are yet to learn this.

Nonetheless, when it comes to laying out the threat posed by the MAGA movement, Biden’s speech on Thursday can be boiled down to a few words: “I said what I said.”