Old Joe Biden’s speech in Atlanta recently on supposedly protecting the right to vote by allowing all manner of mechanisms for voter fraud is already infamous for its demagoguery, as Biden likened the supporters of election integrity to racists, segregationists and Confederates. But what Biden’s speechwriters served up at the Atlanta University Center Consortium was nothing new: Democrat politicians have been indulging in the same irresponsible and divisive race-baiting for decades. It’s no wonder that racial tensions in America today are so high.
In Atlanta, Biden drew the line sharply between those who want to want to cheat in elections (those are the good guys, in his view) and some of the most ill-famed people in America. Biden read off his teleprompter:
So, I ask every elected official in America: How do you want to be remembered? At consequential moments in history, they present a choice: Do you want to be the si- — on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis? This is the moment to decide to defend our elections, to defend our democracy.
Biden’s inflammatory and hateful rhetoric was strongly reminiscent of one of the most shameful examples of demagoguery in American history: Senator Ted Kennedy’s words in July 1987 opposing Ronald Reagan’s nomination of Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court:
Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens.
Not one word of that was true, of course, not even “and” and “the.” Bork was a strict constructionalist, that is, someone who interpreted the Constitution according to the meaning intended by its framers, instead of engaging in all manner of logical flights of fancy in order to force the nation’s founding document to say what Leftists wish it said. That was why he was unacceptable to Kennedy and other Leftist political leaders; however, they couldn’t very well stand up in the Senate and say that they opposed Bork because he was against the massive overreach of the federal government and the nation’s drift toward socialism, and because he would labor to keep the government within Constitutional bounds.
So instead, Kennedy smeared Bork as a racist religious fanatic who would trample upon the legitimate rights of American citizens. It was red meat for the blue rubes, and although a few tut-tutted Kennedy for his rhetorical excess, it worked: Bork was portrayed as an “extremist” by the establishment media, and his Supreme Court nomination went down in flames.
Likewise today, voter integrity initiatives have enormous popular support, because for the most part Americans don’t want to see the will of the people overruled by ballot harvesting, fraudulent ballot harvesting, and other unfortunate aspects of the contemporary scene. The idea of requiring valid identification for voting is widely seen as simple common sense, not racism. So Old Joe Biden, who aided Kennedy in defaming and destroying Bork, can’t stand before the American people and say that he opposes voter integrity efforts because they make it harder for Democrats to win elections by cheating. Instead, he says that it’s all about a restoration of Jim Crow laws, a racist initiative to deny black Americans the right to vote.
Many have remarked upon the implicit racism of Biden’s assumption that black Americans are unable to obtain the proper identification needed for voting, but of course the establishment media never notices racism when it comes from Leftists. It has been three and a half decades since Robert Bork was nominated to the Supreme Court and then defamed and destroyed, and in all those years Democrats have never found it necessary to develop new tactics to move American public opinion. Race-hate demagoguery worked then; why shouldn’t it work now? And even if it fails now, you can be sure that the Democrats will use this tactic again somewhere down the line. They’re nothing if not predictable.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 23 books including many bestsellers, such as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), The Truth About Muhammad and The History of Jihad. His latest book is The Critical Qur’an. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.