Claims that former President Donald Trump and the GOP pose a grave "threat to democracy" have become a key Democrat talking point ahead of the 2024 elections, but several prominent Republicans and experts say it is really President Biden's party that is working overtime to undermine the vote.
To make their case, they point to Democrats' efforts to keep Trump off the ballot, imprison him, stifle free speech on social media, and rewrite election laws while fighting measures designed to protect ballot integrity. Those ongoing efforts, they say, are a much bigger threat to democracy than the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot Biden and Democrats frequently cite.
Biden summed up those efforts in a speech last year about saving the "soul of the nation" from Trump and his fellow Republicans, claiming they represented "an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic," were "a threat to American democracy," and "a clear and present danger" to all Americans.
Most recently, Democrats have thrown their weight behind state-level legal efforts to prevent Trump from appearing on 2024 presidential ballots, including in Colorado, where the state Supreme Court ruled 4-3 earlier this week that the former president violated the Constitution's 14th Amendment when he "engaged in insurrection" concerning Jan. 6, and should be disqualified.
"Democrats cynically used the COVID-19 pandemic to radically undermine long-standing election laws on the fly and then started pushing for non-citizens to vote in U.S. elections," Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told Fox News Digital. "Now the left is working to remove political opponents from the ballot in a shocking display of disregard for the American people’s right to choose their candidates."
"These attacks on the democratic process drive down voter confidence and trust in the electoral system. Meanwhile, the RNC and our partners are fighting to make sure the American people choose their presidential candidates, not the courts," she said, adding that the RNC was trying to protect election integrity by fighting for policies to ensure only American citizens vote in elections.
Legal expert and Fox News contributor Jonathan Turley agreed, calling the Colorado court's ruling "the most anti-democratic opinion in decades," and arguing that Democrats' claims about protecting democracy "would be more compelling if they were not supporting the effort to block voters from being able to vote for Trump and canceling primaries in states like Florida."
"It is also difficult to claim the mantle of the defender of democracy when your party is actively fighting for the censorship and blacklisting of those with opposing views," Turley added. "The best way to defend democracy is to practice it by supporting both the right to vote and to free speech in others, including those who hold opposing viewpoints."
Turley's reference to censorship concerns accusations the Biden administration engaged in efforts to violate Americans' First Amendment rights by working with Big Tech platforms to police controversial social media posts pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic and the president's son, Hunter Biden.
The Supreme Court agreed in October to review a court-ordered ban on certain communications between the Biden administration and Big Tech after state attorneys general from Missouri and Louisiana accused high-ranking government officials of working with social media companies "under the guise of combating misinformation."
Democrats challenging Biden for the party's presidential nomination, including author Marianne Williamson, Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., and now-independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., all fault the Democratic National Committee for silencing them by refusing to hold primary debates.
Prior to shifting to running as an independent, Kennedy also faced the wrath of his fellow Democrats at a July House hearing on the "weaponization" of the federal government intended to address censorship.
Democrats on the committee unsuccessfully attempted to halt the hearing and instead use it to blast comments previously made by Kennedy that they said were anti-Asian and antisemitic.
"This is an attempt to censor a censorship hearing," Kennedy said in response.
Despite their actions, recent polling has shown Democrats hold an advantage in swing states when it comes to which party is most trusted on the issue of protecting democracy.
According to Republican strategist Garrett Ventry, that advantage is attributed to Democrats' "obsession" with talking about "threats to democracy" in place of issues where they fail to win over the American people, such as the economy, prices and jobs.
"They know they can't talk about those issues because the American people know that they've handled those in a very abysmal way. The border is wide open, inflation has been very high over the last couple of years, the economy is stagnant and people feel like their financial situation is worse," he told Fox.
"There is no greater threat to democracy in our republic than the Democrat Party," Ventry said. "When Donald Trump was sworn into office, he never went after Hillary Clinton. He didn't go after Barack Obama. He didn't go after his political opponents. We didn't have state attorneys general and state secretaries of state and district court judges trying to get Joe Biden off the ballot."
Ventry pointed to Biden's Department of Justice targeting other individual Americans, including Catholic church-goers, parents attending school board meetings to express concern over what was being taught to their children, and lower-income Americans through the hiring of 87,000 new IRS agents.
"They've used every lever of government, whether it be the federal government, or state courts, to try to attack their political opponents here. And you're not seeing Republicans do the same across the country," he added.
Former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., a strong advocate for ballot reform and voter turnout since leaving the Senate in 2021, told Fox that Democrats call Republicans "election deniers," and attempt to silence them whenever they object to their anti-democratic actions.
"Democrats fight commonsense safeguards to prevent voter fraud, encourage activist DAs to throw leading political opponents in jail, and empower unelected judges who interfere in presidential elections," she said, adding that she was working in Georgia, a state expected to be competitive in 2024, to "actively pushing back against the left’s work to undermine election integrity."
"To prevent the further takeover of our elections, it’s imperative that every state remains vigilant in defending actual democracy rather than just protecting Democrat rule," she said.
Loeffler argued that Democrats would "rather gain power by moving the goalposts than by defending their policies and track records," and that they know they'll "have a lock on elections and government power" if they abolish voter ID laws, restore voting rights for felons, allow ballot harvesting and legalize same-day voter registration.
"It’s the number one reason they look away while the U.S. breaks records for illegal immigration: non-citizen voting is at the top of their wish lists this Christmas," she said before adding that the Colorado court's ruling to keep Trump off the ballot was just the latest example of Democrats' "non-stop work to undermine democracy and interfere in the 2024 elections."
As the 2024 election draws closer, the latest efforts by Democrats to stop Trump by any means necessary have begun to give pause to some of the party's thought leaders, including former Biden official Tim Wu, now a professor at Columbia University.
"This may be an unpopular post, but I think we need to realize that using undemocratic means to fight candidate Trump increases the odds of losing democracy itself," he wrote Thursday.
Fox News' Alexander Hall contributed to this report.