Biden says 'democracy is at risk' ahead of US midterm elections

President calls out political lies, violence and election result deniers

US President Joe Biden gives a speech about increasing threats to US democracy and free elections at the Democratic National Committee's Columbus Club in Washington. EPA
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President Joe Biden on Wednesday called on Americans to use their votes to protect democracy in a speech condemning anti-democratic threats at an event in Washington, less than one week before America heads into the midterm elections.

“In our bones, we know democracy is at risk,” he said. “We also know this: it's in our power, each and every one of us, to preserve our democracy. And I believe we will.”

Mr Biden's speech, which was a last-minute addition to his schedule, comes as the Republican Party appears to be gaining momentum before the November 8 vote.

Dozens of Republican candidates who deny that Mr Biden won the 2020 election are on ballots across the country, with many expected to take up influential positions that will involve overseeing future elections.

“I know there's a lot at stake in these midterm elections, from our economy, the safety of our streets, our personal freedoms, the future of health care, Social Security, Medicare - it's all important,” Mr Biden said.

“There's something else at stake: democracy itself.”

Political violence has also been growing in the US.

Last week, Paul Pelosi, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband, was attacked in the couple's San Francisco home and the attacker said he wanted to break Ms Pelosi's kneecaps for the “lies” told by Democrats.

Authorities say he was driven by political “misinformation” and far-right conspiracy theories.

“Lies repeated over and over to generate a cycle of anger, hate vitriol and even violence,” Mr Biden said.

“We must, with one overwhelming unified voice, speak as a country and say there's no place — no place — for voter intimidation or political violence in America, whether it's directed at Democrats or Republicans.”

Republicans have been silent or else equivocated in condemning the assault on Mr Pelosi. Others have spread conspiracy theories about the attack.

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The federal government has warned police of a “heightened threat” around the elections, while in Arizona, armed vigilantes are watching ballot boxes, saying they are protecting “election integrity”.

Critics say they are trying to intimidate minorities from voting.

Across the country, Republican candidates are already hinting that they will challenge the results if they lose, seeding further distrust of the electoral process and system.

“Now extreme Maga [Make America Great Again] Republicans aim to question not only the legitimacy of past elections, but elections being held now and into the future,” Mr Biden said.

“The extreme Maga element of the Republican Party … driving force is trying to succeed where they failed in 2020 to suppress the right of voters and subvert the electoral system itself — that means denying your right to vote.”

Axios research estimates that at least 200 candidates who believe that the 2020 election was stolen from former president Donald Trump are running for office in the midterm elections.

This is not the first time Mr Biden has spoken on the topic: he called out Maga Republicans for destroying American democracy in an address from Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, earlier this year.

Updated: November 02, 2022, 11:40 PM