Joe Biden was famous for delivering eulogies long before he was elected president, so it should not come as a surprise that in his remarks to the nation to memorialize the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and our system of elections, he spoke more about the past tense—of a “former president” and a “failed” attempt to overthrow democracy—than about the very real, very urgent threats facing the nation today.
It’s easy and convenient to isolate the images, violence and memories of Jan. 6, to remove them from their ongoing context and package them into produced speeches or television segments that look back. It’s much more difficult to speak the truth about the modern Republican party, from school board meetings across the country to the halls of Congress, harnessing the power of white supremacy, propaganda and violence to fundamentally reshape America and destabilize the institutions that once buttressed the principles of democracy Biden declared on Thursday still endure.
Twelve months after the attack, Biden saying anything was an improvement over silence. But there is a profound danger in “remembering” Jan. 6 once-per-year instead of acknowledging and confronting it daily.