It is Joe Biden’s time — 10 reasons
I will never forget, as a young man in my early 20s, having a conversation with my mentor and later boss, Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho) after his campaign visit to Delaware to campaign for a 29-year-old Senate candidate named Joe Biden. Few gave Biden a chance to win against a seasoned and respected senior senator, J. Caleb Boggs.
The polls had Biden way behind, and 1972 was anything but a good year for Democrats. But Frank Church saw something very special in Joe Biden and he said to me: “I think that kid Biden can do it, he is an amazing candidate and he’s connecting with voters.” When the votes were counted, Joe Biden won with just over 3,000 votes.
As most Americans know, Biden and his family were preparing to come to Washington when his wife and young daughter were killed in a tragic car accident, that also left his other two sons injured and in the hospital. Biden seriously considered not taking his seat, but Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.) and others consoled him and urged him to be sworn in and take the office.
Frank Church helped Biden through his grief and provided his experienced Chief of Staff and Press Secretary to help the new senator. Public service has been Joe Biden’s life ever since. When I worked for Church, I became close to Biden’s top aide Ted Kaufman (later Senator), who helped guide us through the hard election of 1980, and even Church’s run for President in 1976.
All this to say, there is a lot of history over many decades.
In my view, Joe Biden’s time is now. Here are the reasons:
- He speaks the common language of what Senator Sherrod Brown calls “the dignity of work.” With Brown not running, Joe Biden talks the talk of the scrappy, Catholic kid from Scranton, Pa. He learned the ups and downs of an American family in the 20th century and his working-class roots are ingrained in him.
- Biden is genuine, he speaks his mind, what you see is what you get. He may go on a little long, he may misspeak, he may occasionally go over the top… but any criticism of Uncle Joe for that pales in comparison to what we have in the White House now. Hard to imagine over 6,000 lies from Joe Biden in just two years!
- Biden is a steady hand on the tiller when we need a captain who can navigate the foreign policy seas that are guaranteed to get much choppier with Trump on top. He is trusted abroad, respected by our allies and enemies alike, and knows the lay of the land and the history behind it. Again, a clear contrast not only with Trump but also the group of other Democrats seeking the nomination.
- He is a solid progressive, but his issue positions won’t alienate large sections of the American electorate. The “socialist” label will never stick to him. He has a record of over 40 years in office that can be nitpicked, but Joe Biden is mainstream in the best sense of the word — middle America mainstream.
- Democrats want to win the presidency more than all else. They understand that another four years of Trump isn’t just another term, it’s exponential in its harm to the country. Just as the election of 2018 showed what Democrats could do, even when the economy was relatively stable, 2020 is the ultimate battle. Even if some of the more liberal elements of our party would rather Biden adopt more radical policy positions, nothing is more important than nominating a ticket than can, and will, win in November.
- The states that Democrats lost, or nearly lost, in 2016 — Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Minnesota, New Hampshire — are states where Biden will be strong and do well as the Democratic nominee. He will play much better, to be honest, than Hillary did in 2016 or other “coastal” candidates will in 2020.
- The fact that Biden knows how to negotiate with the other side is a plus, not a minus. The fact that he was able to prevent a government shutdown by negotiating with Republicans illustrates that Biden is trusted by his former colleagues on the Hill and has earned their respect. He has been there, he has sat across the table from strong personalities. He knows how to do it. He is competent and with an incompetent P. T. Barnum in the White House the contrast could not be more clear.
- He may be older than others running, and he may not be a new face, but he is in better shape than Trump, and he knows how to campaign. He will be out there as a Happy Warrior, as they used to describe Hubert Humphrey — a candidate who dives into the crowd.
- The role of the vice president doesn’t hurt, it helps. Not only has he been there in the White House, but when you consider that we have had six vice presidents as nominees for president in the last 60 years, that is impressive. (Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, George H.W. Bush. and Al Gore).
- Joe Biden is a fighter. He is passionate and strong and skilled. And, more important, he knows how to wage a political fight without going over the top, without making rookie mistakes, without taking the bait. He may very well be the most experienced and deft opponent that Trump could face. He has been through it all and his political instincts are well honed.
There is no question that Joe Biden has been a fixture in American politics for a very long time. He is a known quantity — maybe just what America needs right now. That’s why it may just be Joe Biden’s time.