Al Sharpton, MSNBC’s anchor recently said the emotional address by President Biden didn’t seem to be intended to win support or momentum for broad Democratic election legislation. He called it a speech about going to hell.
Sharpton, who is a liberal activist and also hosts MSNBC’s weekend programming, was present for Biden’s Atlanta address. The president stated that either you were with hated figures such as the segregationist Governor. George Wallace, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, or civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis, whose name one of the Democratic voting bills is named.
Joe Scarborough, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” said Biden’s rhetoric may have “overshot the mark” as he attempts to persuade moderate Democrats such as Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), to end the filibuster which allows legislation to be advanced with 60 votes.
When Sharpton was asked by Geist about his objective in using strong words to describe Biden, Sharpton replied that Biden’s emotion was partly due to visiting King’s grave before visiting with his family.
Sharpton stated, “I thought it’s a good speech.” “It was a case involving my brother Joe. If he was trying to get votes, it wasn’t the vote-getting speech. I’m a minister. You either get up and try to convince people of their sins or appeal to their higher angels. You say that they’re going to hell if they bring the whiskey jug to church. He gave a “you’re going down to hell” speech, I believe.
Biden, who is a self-described institutionalist, has reversed an older position by calling to end the filibuster if it is necessary to pass voting legislation. Vice President Kamala Harris and Biden are pushing for the Freedom to Vote Act (and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act), which overhaul the U.S. electoral system. The laws are not supported by Republicans, who see them as attempts to impose their rights on states to run their elections.
Conservatives criticized the speech, with Rich Lowry of National Review claiming that Biden’s decision to abandon his support for filibuster was evidence that he was a hack. John Podhoretz of the New York Post wrote that Biden gave a “wildly demagogues speech designed to make Twitter blue-checks do a Snoopy dance in joy while embracing an attempt with no chance at actual success.”
National Journal called Biden’s election law a distraction from other important issues like the pandemic and the economy.
Although Sharpton was present at Biden’s address in person, one notable Democratically was absent: Stacey Abrams (the Georgia Democrat running to be governor in 2022). Some observers were stunned that she would ignore the president while on her own turf.