Asselman and Neyskens: ‘Biden labels not only Trump but half the US as a danger’

President Joe Biden’s recent statements about his predecessor Donald Trump have caused quite a stir on both sides of the Atlantic. The current president, who likes to present himself as the great conciliator and representative of all Americans, delivered a groundbreaking speech this week. He called Trump and his supporters “a threat to the country.” He did this not just in a press talk, but in an official announcement on the major channels in the country.

So it’s high time to look back at the United States. Of course we do this with our regular America experts Roan Asselman and David Neyskens. In this episode of Breakthrough Radio they analyze this verbal war between the former and current president in American politics.

Policy announcement on political opponent

It format that Biden uses is normally only for major policy announcements that are then broadcast live across the country. “Bush used it to announce the war in Iraq, Trump for the corona crisis and Reagan for the Challenger accident.” What Biden has done now is to push a big boundary, according to Neyskens. ‘By this way a political speech to worry about his opponent, flanked by soldiers and under the guise of democracy.’

There is a big difference between speaking as leader of a political party or as president. “Trump, for example, is also giving speeches to his supporters this week and in them he can basically say what he wants.” As president you make official policy. In this way it is apparently the case that in the official policy of the United States the political opponent of the president is an enemy of the state, says Neyskens.

Biden gave many reasons for this in his speech. “Trump will not accept the election results, he would incite his supporters and the Republicans to political violence and they would have no respect for the police and the FBI, as proved in the raid on his house.”

MAGA Republicans

In his speeches about Donald Trump, Biden invariably speaks of the MAGA Republicans. They would be the danger to democracy and the rule of law and not all Republicans. MAGA stands for ‘Make America Great Again‘, the slogan with which Donald Trump became president in 2016. “He uses MAGA Republicans to create the impression that he targets only a small minority of that party as extremists.”

At the same time, you can read from his general discourse and policy that he does mean anyone who calls themselves conservative, says Asselman, or even anyone who does not align with the Democratic party. “In his language he labels half the American population as a danger to democracy and this is language that he uses more and more.”

Divide or Reconcile

In terms of content, this type of language and the extent to which a large part of the population is demonized is very exceptional. “For example, Trump could also label the media as an enemy, but in the end that was only about a small elite that dominates the press landscape.”

In addition, President Trump never pretended to be the great conciliator or someone who wanted to build bridges. “He was a real warrior.” Biden, on the other hand, has campaigned for “the soul of the nation‘ and a different way of doing politics, says Asselman. ‘What is he doing? He calls his opponents, about half the country, a danger to the nation.’

The Grand Old Party

In the Republican party, 80% ideologically belongs to the MAGA movement, says Neyskens, whatever that may be. “Many Republicans therefore approved the policy during the Trump presidency.” That does not mean that they are contesting the storming of the Capitol, contesting elections, or condoning political violence. The dirty political trick that is being played now is to link those things together, says Neyskens. “That is also the framework in which this very polarizing speech from Biden fits.”


The tactic also has to do with the upcoming midterm elections, according to Asselman. For example, the Democratic Party wants to keep that image of that storming of the Capitol alive instead of focusing on policy and current problems. The reactions from Republican quarters were therefore damning to this speech. But there were also comments from the press, who are normally good friends of Biden. “The president speaks as president and not as Democratic leader and next to that those two marines, inadmissible, it sounded there.” The campaign is therefore already well underway towards November.

Editor: Pieter-Jan Volkaert

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The article is in Dutch

Tags: Asselman Neyskens Biden labels Trump danger

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