Conventional thinking has political observers in its grip (as usual). The presidency, many say, is no country for old men.
The case against Biden running for a second term goes like this:
- He looks his age (80).
- Octogenarians can’t do a job as demanding as the presidency.
- He stumbles occasionally when he speaks.
- He’s done a good job, but he should quit while he’s ahead.
- Voters would feel more comfortable with someone younger.
Ageism, ageism, ageism, ageism, and ageism.
When someone has done well under very difficult circumstances, you should only consider a dramatic change if you have compelling reasons to do so. None of the reasons listed above are compelling. They are based entirely on “what if” fears. Reasons are only compelling when they’re based in reality.
The following would be the compelling reasons for Biden not to run again:
- Doing a demonstratively poor job.
- Showing significant — repeat, significant — cognitive and/or physical decline.
- A superior alternative candidate is available and ready to run — Obama caliber — who is more likely than Biden to win.
- Biden decides, on his own, unpressured, not to run again.
None of those, at this point, apply.
Joe Biden has not just done a good job. His productivity has been remarkable, especially considering the razor-thin majorities he had to work with in Congress — against obstructionists like Manchin and Sinema and the insurrectionists across the aisle. And he passed the so-called “midterm referendum on his presidency,” defying decades of accumulated conventional wisdom, proving that Americans trust him over the alternatives.
He has shown no major, or even minor, cognitive or physical decline. He has a stutter, had it since childhood. Holding that against him is as bad, if not worse, than ageism.
He looks his age — this is what a vigorous octogenarian looks like. He made the Republicans look like fools (admittedly not hard to do) during the State of the Union speech last week, which was praised for its content and his delivery (by those in the reality-based community anyway).
If you can’t think of a superior alternative within, say, 5 seconds, then that person doesn’t exist. It would have to be that obvious. Even if you do have someone in mind, everyone else would have to agree because that person needs to unite the Pro-Democracy coalition. We have won two out of three elections with Biden, but we need that three-peat. We really need that three-peat. Otherwise we turn the government over to the insurrectionists again.
Trump, who will be 80 in 2024 by the way, will almost certainly be on the ballot. Even if Ron DeSantis, Mike Pence, Nikki Haley or someone else somehow manages to wrangle the Republican nomination away from Trump, he would probably run as a third-party candidate anyway.
Biden is feisty and passionate and has a vision for this country’s future. He is far more active than Obama was in pushing his agenda. He has proven he’s got the energy and vision for the job. He has earned the right to run again.
If someone tries to run against him in the primaries, the Democrats will be divided and almost certainly lose in November. We cannot afford that. A primary battle for an incumbent is the proverbial kiss of death. We do not want to repeat the Jimmy Carter disaster. We ended up with Ronald Reagan, who started the long slide of the Republican Party into anti-democracy.
Could Biden go into decline in the next year and a half? If elected, could he go into decline during his second term? As long as there has been no clear indication of that so far — and there hasn’t — then it’s a risk we have to take.
Because the risk with the other option is far, far greater.
The reservations about Joe Biden are ageism, pure and simple.
Back Biden. In fact, sing his praises.
And let’s complete our three-peat in 2024.