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Biden: Capitol riot “test of whether our democracy could survive”

▶ Watch Video: Biden concludes speech: “We have to prove that democracy still works”

President Biden on Wednesday called the Capitol riot “a test of whether our democracy could survive,” and called on Americans to “prove democracy still works.” 

“The insurrection was an existential crisis — a test of whether our democracy could survive,” Mr. Biden said during his address to a joint session of Congress. “And it did.” 

“But the struggle is far from over,” he added. “The question of whether our democracy will long endure is both ancient and urgent.” 

Mr. Biden had made the “battle for the soul of the nation” a key campaign point even ahead of the January 6 riot, when a mob of angry Trump supporters descended on the U.S. Capitol while members of Congress counted the Electoral College votes.   

Federal prosecutors have worked for months to track down those who stormed the Capitol. More than 410 people have been arrested in connection with the attack, which left multiple people dead. 

Mr. Biden said the nation’s adversaries are betting that democracy can’t deliver equality or survive the uptick in polarization that fueled the assault, and said they view the Capitol riot as “proof that the sun is setting on American democracy.”

“But they’re wrong,” he said. “You know it, I know it — but we have to prove them wrong. We have to prove democracy still works. That our government still works, and can deliver for our people.” 

Mr. Biden concluded the roughly one-hour speech with a call for unity, urging Americans to “do their part” to heal the nation’s wounds. 

“In another era when our democracy was tested, Franklin Roosevelt reminded us — In America: we do our part. We all do our part. That’s all I’m asking. That we do our part, all of us,” Mr. Biden said. “And if we do, we will meet the central challenge of the age by proving that democracy is durable and strong.” 

“Autocrats will not win the future,” he added. “We will. America will.” 

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