MINOT, N.D. — One of the many, many problems with the Donald Trump presidency was the propensity of the president himself to say utterly irresponsible things calculated to engender hatred and discord among Americans.
His critics pointed out that this sort of rhetoric has consequences, and, indeed, their criticism was apt. We all watched what happened on Jan. 6 when hundreds of rioters, garbed in MAGA paraphernalia, waving Trump flags, stormed the U.S. Capitol to put violent, despicable action to Trump's words about a stolen election.
Reasonable people understand that Trump's myriad hyperboles and crackpot conspiracies drove his most ardent supporters to one of the ugliest episodes of modern American politics.
Shouldn't that lesson inspire us to condemn current President Joe Biden's own hyperboles?
Yesterday, during a speech in Philadelphia, the commander-in-chief lumped state-level Republican lawmakers in with traitors for their largely successful push to implement election reforms. He called these laws an “assault” on voting rights and the "most significant threat” to our country since the Civil War.
That was a calculated line, not some off-the-cuff Bidenism. There is “an unfolding assault taking place in America today, an attempt to suppress and subvert the right to vote,” Biden said. “We’re facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That’s not hyperbole, since the Civil War.”
This is as irredeemably irresponsible as anything Donald Trump said leading up to the Jan. 6 riot. Over 750,000 people died in the Civil War, a number representing about 2.5% of America's population at the time. It was fought over laws allowing the enslavement of other human beings.
On what planet is that a fair-minded comparison?
If we're concerned about our elected officials dividing our already divided country further, if we're worried about the link between this sort of hot-blooded fabulism, shouldn't Biden be held responsible in the same way Trump has been?
Or do Biden's adventures with incitement get a pass because they're couched in ideological terms more palatable to the national press corps?
Outside of the progressive-pleasing fire and brimstone, Biden's speech was short on details. He didn't talk about Democrats questioning election outcomes and hatching conspiracies about rigged voting machines back in 2004. With the help of the national Democratic messaging machine, Stacy Abrams has turned her refusal to accept her 2018 loss in Georgia's gubernatorial race into rocket fuel for her political career.
Is it only bad to deny an election outcome when Donald Trump does it?
Biden cited a report from the Brennan Center for Justice during his speech, which found that so far this year, "17 states have enacted — not just proposed, but enacted — 28 new laws to make it harder for Americans to vote" as the president put it.
That same report found that 14 states had passed 28 laws making it easier to vote, and four states appear on both lists, suggesting that the reality of this trend in voting law reform is far more nuanced than Biden would have us believe.
Biden didn't mention this, probably because it wasn't conducive to his goal, which is not so much informing the American people as making them hate one another.
By the way, many of the laws that "make it harder" to vote are things like voter ID requirements, which are far more popular with Americans than Democrats would like us to think, and curbs on sending vote-by-mail ballots to people who didn't request them, which is actually fairly unpopular.
These are reasonable changes, and while it's certainly fair to have a debate about their efficacy, branding them as a new regime of Jim Crow laws and the conflict over them as enormous as the Civil War is not only wildly inaccurate but an utterly indefensible thing to say.
To comment on this article, visit www.sayanythingblog.com
Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at email@example.com.