Biden says US democracy is in 'new time of testing'

President warns Americans that democracy 'can die when people are silent'

President Joe Biden speaks about democracy and the legacy of the late senator John McCain in Tempe, Arizona, on September 28. AP
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US President Joe Biden on Thursday said American "democracy is still at risk", in a speech honouring the late Senator John McCain in Arizona, as the country faces a possible government shutdown before entering an election year.

"Democracies don't have to die at the end of a rifle," Mr Biden said.

"They can die when people are silent, when they fail to stand up or condemn threats to democracy."

He was in Tempe, Arizona, to mark the legacy of McCain — a Republican senator with whom Mr Biden worked in the Senate, and who even dared to criticise former president Donald Trump.

Mr Biden was visiting to announce a project funding a presidential-style library in honour of Mr McCain, who died in 2018.

"I've come to honour the McCain Institute and Library because they are home to a proud Republican who put his country first," he said.

"Our commitment should be no less because democracy should unite all Americans, regardless of political affiliation, and there's something dangerous happening in America."

Mr Biden is poised to run for re-election as the Democratic party nominee in the 2024 presidential election.

"History has brought us to a new time of testing," he said. "All of us are being asked now: what will we do to maintain our democracy?"

His most likely opponent in the Republican party is Mr Trump, who he defeated in 2020.

Mr Biden is, again, using democracy as a campaigning point as Mr Trump deals with criminal cases alleging that he conspired to subvert election results, including influencing a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol.

“Democracy is still at risk," Mr Biden said. "This is not hyperbole. It’s the simple truth.”

Beyond Mr Trump and his criminal charges, Mr Biden says the Republican party has appeared to become more authoritarian with denying election results, undermining the justice system, endorsing political violence, advancing voter suppression and threatening American rights.

"There's an extremist movement that does not share the basic beliefs in our democracy," he said.

Mr Biden also referred to recent anti-democratic actions by far-right Republicans, such as blocking military promotions for political reasons and threatening to shut down the government.

"Extremists in Congress are more determined to shut down the government to burn the place down," he claimed.

This is not the first time Mr Biden has spoken about the fragility of US democracy.

He voiced his concerns in a speech outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the US Constitution was signed, as well as at a Martin Luther King Day ceremony and in remarks on the anniversary of the January 6 insurrection.

We know it in our bones that democracy is at risk, says Biden

We know it in our bones that democracy is at risk, says Biden
Updated: September 28, 2023, 9:53 PM