Joe Biden ran on a promise to unify the nation. He missed an opportunity on Thursday.
Instead of calling on Americans to come together, he went on a partisan rant against President Donald Trump and even suggested that the Capitol Police were racist.
Biden said the previous day’s riot on Capitol Hill was the result of four years of Trump: “He unleashed an all-out assault on our institutions of our democracy from the outset. And yesterday was but the culmination of that unrelenting attack.”
Not only is that claim arguably untrue, but it ignores the left’s refusal to accept the results of the 2016 election, the radical tactics of the so-called “Resistance,” the pointless impeachment of 2019-20, and the Black Lives Matter riots last year.
If Biden had wanted to heal the nation, he would have offered a hand of friendship to Trump supporters — and he would have acknowledged that the left has also used political violence.
In fact, the left has rioted against democracy for the past decade.
In one of the great speeches of Andrew Breitbart’s career, he stood outside the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison on a snowy day in April 2011 and called out the hatred of the left-wing protesters who had occupied and besieged the building for weeks.
“The Tea Party has been the most peaceful, law-abiding, clean-up-after-themselves group in the history of American protest,” he said, addressing the left. “You have no right to lecture us on civility … Go to hell! … You’re trying to divide America.”
Breitbart and the Tea Party were there to stage a counter-demonstration against the unions and left-wing protesters who were trying to disrupt the legislature to prevent it from passing public sector union reforms.
After Democratic legislators fled the state to prevent a quorum, left-wing demonstrators surrounded the building and filled the halls. Some vandalized the capitol; some camped out inside to pressure lawmakers. One of their favorite chants was: “This is what democracy looks like!”
Never mind that it was the opposite of democracy, an attempt to seize power and prevent the democratically-elected state legislature from performing its duties and fulfilling promises leaders had made to Wisconsin voters the previous November.
The left has chanted “This is what democracy looks like” over and over again for the past decade, as it repeated the same tactics — with the approval of Democrats and the mainstream media, who cast the protests, and even riots, in heroic terms.
In 2011, both President Barack Obama and then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) embraced the Occupy Wall Street movement, which seized private property, fought police, and allowed major crimes to be committed at its campsites.
Later, Obama backed the Black Lives Matter movement, which began with riots in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 based on false claims that a police officer shot an innocent black man trying to surrender. The media also embraced the protests.
After the 2016 election, Democrats embraced the so-called “Resistance,” refusing to accept the results of a legitimate democratic election. There were left-wing riots in Washington, DC, on Inauguration Day in 2017.
In 2018, when the Senate debated the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, protesters occupied congressional office buildings in and pounded on the Supreme Court doors. Radical activists trapped Senators in elevators. The media loved every minute.
In 2020, the media embraced the Black Lives Matter protests — and the riots, which engulfed 48 out of 50 major American cities. Journalists insisted the protests were “mostly peaceful,” even as buildings burst into flames behind them.
Democrats, like then-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), called federal law enforcement agents a “paramilitary” and raised funds to bail our rioters in Minneapolis. In July, Joe Biden called the rioters in Portland, Oregon — who were shooting explosives and laser beams at federal officers — “peaceful protesters.”
And all along, the left — with the media’s help — claimed that “this is what democracy looks like.” It is no great mystery that, eventually, some on the right took them at their word. After all, the left had used political violence for years — and it won.
None of that excuses President Donald Trump. He shares the blame for Wednesday’s riot. It has damaged his legacy and clouded his remarkable achievements. Even if he believes he was cheated, he had a duty to uphold law and order. He failed.
Yet somehow the depravity of political violence only becomes clear to Democrats and the media when the other side does it.
Andrew Breitbart described America’s choice: Tea Party, or Occupy. The left chose Occupy. Some on the right have, too.
Reconciliation requires that both Democrats and Republicans commit to non-violence, lawful protest, and civil debate. It requires both sides to admit that we have failed, at times, in that regard, and must do better.
I would personally like to see Biden apologize for, and withdraw, his false claims about Trump — especially the “fine people hoax,” which claims that Trump supported neo-Nazis in deadly riots in Charlottesville in 2017. (Trump condemned them.)
Instead, Biden repeated the hoax on Thursday. He also repeated false claims that Trump used tear gas to clear “peaceful protesters” in front of the White House for a “photo-op,” and held a Bible upside-down at the church across the street. All of those divisive claims have been debunked.
Biden signaled that he and his party plan to use January 6 as a pretext for retribution, not an opportunity for reconciliation.
And so if the rest of us want to rebuild trust, we will have to do it ourselves.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is How Not to Be a Sh!thole Country: Lessons from South Africa. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.