Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
November 3, 2022
The 2022 US midterm election is five days away, the result will not only have great impacts on US domestic developments, it also will have significant consequences on geopolitics. It is no wonder that the Chinese news media show heavy coverages.
Under Biden, the US-China relation has not been stabilized as the US focuses on China as an overall competitor. China has completed the CCP 20th National Congress and Xi is in full charge for the next five years. But Biden faces a very tough midterm election, and the conventional wisdom predicts that Democratics will be defeated by the GOP. Biden most likely will be a lame duck president after the election. If Democratics loses the majority control of both the House and the Senate, Biden administration will be severely curtailed in the next two years.
However, Biden made an “important, puzzling democracy speech” yesterday. Biden took the stage to directly blame GOP for attacking US democracy one more time. But no one seems to believe that Biden’s speech will have any significant impact on the outcome of this midterm election. On the contrary, Biden’s speech may backfire because “not every Democrat thought it was helpful to make the address when candidates are trying to distance themselves from Mr. Biden.”
On the stage, Biden briefly raised his favored issue “of democracy versus autocracy and the notion of an inflection point.” But if the US domestic democracy were under the attack by GOP already, how a broken democracy manages competitions from foreign autocracy? Then, what exactly does Biden mean by “an infection point?” Will this midterm election in the US have any impact on Biden’s inflection point?
POLITICO: Biden’s important, puzzling democracy speech
BEHIND BIDEN’S ADDRESS — Last month, President JOE BIDEN told his team he wanted to do one more speech on the dangers facing American democracy before the midterms.
Biden had already delivered a grand address on the issue, on Sept. 1 in front of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. But aides and allies said this week that Biden has become increasingly dismayed as more election deniers emerged from Republican primaries to wage competitive general election campaigns. And, as evidence emerged that democracy had moved up the list of voter concerns, he wanted to take another crack at it.
In a quickly assembled event Tuesday night at Union Station, the president delivered a sharp, clear message asking voters to put election lies and political violence at the top of their minds as they cast their midterm ballots.
Opening his speech by recounting last week’s attack on PAUL PELOSI, the House speaker’s husband, Biden connected that violence, Jan. 6 and other incidents to DONALD TRUMP ’s election lies. “In this moment, we have to confront those lies with the truth,” he said. “The very future of our nation depends on it.”
As Olivia Olander and Chris Cadelago report, “It was a familiar tone from the president, who has warned about threats to democracy before. But with the midterms just days away, it took on a sharper note. Biden blamed [Trump] for stoking divisions in the country and breeding election denialism. And he warned that election-denying Trump acolytes were ‘running for every level of office in America.’”
It was the closing message that met the moment for Biden, if not for other Democrats who have been swamped in Republican attacks focused on inflation, crime and the porous southern border. Biden set aside all of those issues to instead ask Americans to simply vote for candidates who won’t work to destroy democracy.
As one Biden ally familiar with the planning told Playbook last night, “The [theme] of democracy versus autocracy and the notion of an inflection point — that came straight out of Biden’s head and mouth.”
The person added that Biden knows “there’s not a big interest group [for this]. There’s not a Twitter feed for democracy. But that’s the moment we find ourselves in.”
That sense of the moment, however, is up for debate, as the NYT’s Peter Baker writes in his step-back piece : “While Democrats largely agree with the argument in Mr. Biden’s speech, not every Democrat thought it was helpful to make the address when candidates are trying to distance themselves from Mr. Biden, whose approval ratings are in the mid-40s, and voters in polls are focused on [other] issues.”
“Issues of democracy are hugely important at this moment and in next week’s election. Totally appropriate for @POTUS to address them,” tweeted DAVID AXELROD . “Still, as a matter of practical politics, I doubt many Ds in marginal races are eager for him to be on TV tonight.”
Biden in ‘sprint’ for midterm, may be difficult to sway final results
By GT staff reportersPublished: Nov 04, 2022 12:43 AM
In his final “sprint” for the upcoming midterm elections, US President Joe Biden tried to highlight the threats faced by US democracy in what the US media described as an unscheduled speech on Wednesday local time, yet Chinese observers said that the move is an attempt to shift attention from the real issues that voters are concerned about – which the current administration has no practical solutions of – such as the worsening inflation.
Delivering a speech at Union Station that is blocks from the US Capitol where hundreds of former president Trump’s supporters violently stormed on January 6, 2021, Biden began the address briefly focusing on the alleged attack on US House Speaker Nancy’s husband, Paul Pelosi, which happened less than a week ago. “American democracy is under attack because the defeated former president… refuses to accept the will of the people,” Biden said, accusing Trump of cultivating a lie that has metastasized into a web of conspiracies that has resulted in targeted violence, US media reported.
Analysts described Biden’s Wednesday speech as a “sprint for midterm elections” and while Biden and the Democrats hope to win voters by amplifying threat of opponents and their supporters to US democracy, the recent chaos of US politics once again highlighted the deep division of the two parties and in the US society.
Biden’s speech clearly targets core voters for the upcoming elections and since this summer, Democrats have escalated attacks at certain Republicans as well as Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. The “tit-for-tat” struggles between Democrats and Republicans are becoming fiercer with the approaching of the midterm elections, which however, may not have too much influence on the final election result, Diao Daming, an associate professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times.
In his speech on Wednesday, Biden said that “Extreme MAGA Republicans” are a minority but the “driving force” of the Republican and their aim to question the legitimacy of past elections is to question elections being held now and the future.
Republicans soon fired back with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy writing on Twitter that Biden “is trying to divide and deflect at a time when America needs to unite – because he can’t talk about his policies that have driven up the cost of living.”
Core issues for midterm elections should still be the domestic economy and people’s livelihoods, but talking about the threats to democracy to rally voters is a trick for Democrats to shift public attention, analysts said, pointing out American public’s increasing dissatisfaction toward the current administration.