Stigmatizing MAGA Republicans as threats to democracy backfiring on Biden, polls show

By seeking to prosecute, silence and marginalize political opponents as anti-democratic "extremists," Biden and other Democrats are arousing fears that it is they themselves who are acting in heavy-handed ways alien to American democratic tradition.

Updated: October 16, 2022 - 11:08pm

President Biden and his political allies have repeatedly described former President Trump and his allies as threats to the foundations of America, warning democracy itself is at stake and positioning themselves as its savior.

According to one poll released last month, preserving democracy is a top issue in this year's election, particularly among Democrat voters.

Ironically, however, a range of recent polling suggests that by seeking to prosecute, silence and stigmatize their political opponents as anti-democratic "extremists," Biden and other Democrats are arousing fears among voters that it is they themselves who are acting in heavy-handed ways alien to the American democratic tradition.

Last month, Biden delivered a speech in Philadelphia vilifying Trump and the Make America Great Again movement aligned with him. "Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic," he declared.

Biden clarified that "not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans" before adding: "But there's no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans. And that is a threat to this country."

Biden went on to say that MAGA Republicans don't respect the Constitution or the rule of law, echoing claims he's made several times during his presidency describing Trump and his supporters. In one case, he called them "semi-fascist."

A majority of Americans, however, disapproved of Biden's speech in Philadelphia as itself divisive, dangerous, and going too far, according to multiple polls.

One of the surveys found a striking 62% of independents said Biden's address was "a dangerous escalation in rhetoric and designed to incite conflict amongst Americans." A mere 31% of independents said it was acceptable rhetoric during an election year.

Meanwhile, in a new poll conducted by the Trafalgar Group for the Association of Mature American Citizens, a majority of respondents, 51%, said they "believe the Biden administration has crossed an important ethical line in pursuing political opponents." 

Just 41% rejected the statement.

Predictably, the vast majority of Republicans said the Biden administration has gone too far in targeting political opponents, while the vast majority of Democrats said the opposite. However, a striking 54% of independents agreed the Biden administration has crossed an ethical line, indicating disapproval of alleged government overreach extends beyond Republicans.

Even more staggering, 74% of Hispanic voters answered "Yes" when asked if the administration has gone too far.

The poll came out two days before all nine lawmakers on the Jan. 6 panel — seven Democrats and two lame duck anti-Trump Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) — voted unanimously on Thursday to subpoena Trump at the conclusion of what's expected to be the committee's last public hearing.

The committee has argued over the last few months that Trump was the central figure in an orchestrated plot to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and incite an insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

"The vast weight of evidence presented so far has shown us that the central cause of Jan. 6 was one man, Donald Trump, who many others followed," Cheney said Thursday.

The committee is reportedly preparing to make criminal referrals to the Justice Department, which is conducting its own investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol breach.

Renowned civil liberties lawyer Alan Dershowitz recently told Just the News that Trump critics both in and out of government are "stretching the law" in order to "get" the former president and see him criminally charged as part of the investigation.

The government's probe has expanded far beyond its original focus on the Capitol breach to target those who questioned the 2020 election. Last month, the Justice Department subpoenaed several Trump associates, seeking information about both Jan. 6 and the 2020 election.

The Justice Department has also arrested nearly 900 people for charges related to Jan. 6, imprisoning most without a trial. Several have said the FBI, Justice Department, and federal prison officials under the Biden administration violated their civil and constitutional rights. The vast majority weren't accused of carrying a weapon, assaulting law enforcement, or destroying property. Many didn't even enter the Capitol building.  

The investigation is one of numerous ongoing efforts to prosecute political opponents of the Biden administration.

Just the News has previously reported on growing outcry among legal experts and civil libertarians over what they described as the Justice Department's strong-arm tactics targeting Trump allies and critics of the Biden administration.

Amid this government activity, public trust in the FBI has eroded, according to recent polling.

A poll from the Trafalgar Group in August found that a plurality of independents believed the FBI and the Justice Department were "too political, corrupt, and not to be trusted" and that a majority of Hispanics believed the Justice Department's investigation into Trump was politically motivated. The poll was released in the aftermath of the FBI's raid on Trump's Mar-a-Lago compound in Florida.

Around the same time, a Rasmussen Reports survey showed 44% of likely U.S. voters, including 46% of independents, said the Mar-a-Lago raid made them trust the FBI less. By comparison, 29% (including just 18% of independents) said it made them trust the bureau more.

Additionally, 50% of overall voters had a favorable impression of the FBI, while 46% viewed the FBI unfavorably, according to the survey. Among independents, 45% had a favorable impression, while 50% viewed the bureau unfavorably.

Perhaps most striking, 49% of independents and 53% of overall voters agreed with a statement by former Trump adviser Roger Stone that "there is a group of politicized thugs at the top of the FBI who are using the FBI ... as Joe Biden's personal Gestapo." Just 38% of independents and 36% of overall voters disagreed.

A Gallup poll from last month found the FBI had an overall 50% approval rating of good or excellent — down seven points from 2019, but up six from last year. About 47% of independents gave the bureau a positive rating.

Just 28% of independents and 35% of overall voters gave the Justice Department a good or excellent rating.

Polling has also indicated the Biden administration's short-lived Disinformation Governance Board was unpopular among the American people, with many fearing the government would have the power to choose what news is fake and what information is legitimate.