Jędrzej Bielecki: Biden Is Also Fighting for Our Future. Let’s Help Him

“ … the defense, protection, and preservation of American democracy will remain, as it has been, the central cause of my presidency,” said the U.S. President. Whether he succeeds will determine the fate of Europe and Poland.

Since the collapse of communism, successive Polish governments have carefully avoided meddling in U.S. domestic politics. It wasn’t difficult because both Democrats and Republicans pushed for what is most important for our country: the defense of NATO members, which for the last quarter of the century has included Poland.

But that is in the past now. The day before the third anniversary of Donald Trump’s coup attempt, Joe Biden chose to begin the Democratic Party’s electoral campaign at Valley Forge in Pennsylvania, where George Washington and his army experienced one of the hardest episodes of the American Revolutionary War. There, Biden warned: “He [Trump] went on to say he’d be a dictator on day one.”

And indeed, to this day, the Republican Party’s favorite nominee believes that Biden is a usurper. He has also indicated that he would withdraw the U.S. from NATO. He has promised that, behind Ukrainian backs, he will reach an agreement with Vladimir Putin.

Trump’s victory would then be a disaster for Poland, which has no way of replacing America’s security guarantees with those of other allies. Mobilization by the government in Warsaw of Polish Americans in the U.S. — to prevent this from happening — seems like a necessity. This would repay the Biden administration, which, by forcing the Law and Justice party to drop support for the “Lex Tusk”* and defending the TVN network’s right to broadcast, made a significant contribution to saving Polish democracy.

But the existential fight for the free world’s future is not limited to America this year. It also extends to other continents, especially Europe. Because of the Nazi past and the importance of the EU, elections in Germany will be of special importance. They may be a key step for the far-right to gain power in Berlin.

Although there are no federal elections planned for this year yet, the Alternative for Deutschland party is not expected to gain power in any part of the country. If, however, opinion polls turn out to be accurate and the AfD wins the elections in Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia, thus gaining almost one-third of the votes, German democracy will face a threat not experienced since the founding of the Federal Republic. Hence, Donald Tusk needs to free himself from the paralysis caused by the attacks of Jarosław Kaczyński. He also needs to support Olaf Scholz’s team in the fight against the far right.

This year may prove to be decisive for the future of the EU. Polls in advance of the June election show a surge in support of the far right across the whole European Union. They are members of two clubs — Identity and European Conservatives and Reformists parties. For the first time, both parties can win more seats than the European People’s Party, traditionally the largest political party in Strasbourg. Although Christian Democrats would easily be able to build a majority with the Left (Socialists and Democrats) and liberals from Renew Europe, under Manfred Weber’s lead, they are adapting more and more slogans of the far right and are even prepared to vote with the far right on some issues (like migration policy).

This process of the moderate right turning into radicalism is also visible in some EU countries, especially in Italy, but also in Sweden and Finland. In Spain, the People’s Party entered into a coalition with post-Franco Vox, overthrowing one of the pillars of Spanish democracy.

But there is no simple recipe for saving freedom. For years, Emmanuel Macron has been leading the strategy of offering an existential choice that Biden is now offering to Americans. By destroying the Socialist Party and the Gaulist Republicans, he was convinced that he had all the power within his reach because the French would never bet on Marine Le Pen. Yet, that promises to be wrong: Polls suggest that the victory on the Seine will belong to the National Rally party. This could be a prelude to Le Pen’s winning the Élysée Palace in three years. And, quite possibly, that would mark the end of the EU as we know it. Poland’s raison d’être is to support Macron to prevent this from happening.

In the short run this year, it could be tiny Belgium that shows what a far-right government can mean. June elections will be held in the northern province of the kingdom in Flanders, where fascist Vlaams Belang has every chance of winning and, for the first time, forming a majority with the nationalist New Flemish Alliance. This has already triggered a deep political crisis in Belgium that may end in the disintegration of the country. One of its most brutal aspects may turn out to be the future of Brussels itself, a French-speaking city located in the middle of Flanders, the headquarters of the EU institutions.

Last year, Poland surprised Europe by showing that it is possible to defeat populism. This year, it should help others do the same. As Biden says, next year may be too late.

*Editor’s Note: “Lex Tusk” refers to a Polish law that could block allegedly pro-Russian politicians from public office.

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