Joe Biden spent almost thirty years in pursuit of the presidency, and even while holding the office at age eighty, Joe is not going to quit while he’s ahead.
The 46th President of the United States used a video on Wednesday to announce that he and Vice President Kamala Harris are running for second terms.
“Every generation of Americans has faced a moment when they’ve had to defend democracy, stand up for our personal freedoms and stand up for our right to vote and our civil rights: Let’s finish the job,” Biden told his polarized country.
He made an initial campaign stop later in the day, touting 800,000 new manufacturing jobs on his watch at a convention of building and construction trades unions. America has gone back to work since the COVID-19 pandemic, albeit with many Americans staying home to work.
The president’s national job approval rating stands at forty-two percent, according to an NBC News poll released earlier this week.
It’s a percentage at which one term presidents, including George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, have been sent packing by the voters. Seventy percent of those surveyed said they do not want Biden to run again.
We know Biden. He was elected to the Senate in 1972 and served thirty-six years before being tapped as Barack Obama’s running mate in 2008. He has evolved on such issues as abortion care. He has embraced such issues as climate action. He has consistently championed the cause of his nation’s blue collar workers.
What, then, boosts his prospects of reelection in the face of low national poll numbers that have lasted since the chaotic withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan in the late summer of 2021?
Biden faces a rematch with his predecessor Donald Trump, widely unpopular with the general public but backed by a right wing faction of the American electorate.
Trump is not looking ahead to America’s future but is running as a candidate of retribution, refusing to admit his own loss in 2020 and bundling the grievances of Americans left behind in a technology-driven economy.
Against this mindset, Americans gave Democrats the best showing of any party holding the White House since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first midterm in 1934.
In Washington State, Senator Patty Murray swept to reelection, the Democrats picked up a U.S. House seat with Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, and made gains in a state Legislature where they were supposed to go into the tank.
“It’s the economy, stupid,” strategist James Carville said in masterminding Bill Clinton’s successful run for the presidency in 1992.
The brief strategic mantra holds particular resonance in America’s so-called rust belt, the Great Lakes states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, taken by Trump in 2016 but carried by Biden in 2020.
The Biden-Harris administration (with Harris wielding a tiebreaking vote in the United States Senate on a near-record number of occasions) has made the most of slim Democratic majorities in Congress during its first two years in office.
The American Rescue Plan put money into an economy ravaged by the pandemic.
With the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Biden-Harris administration enacted a law about which previous administrations just talked.
With CHIPS and Science, guided by Senator Maria Cantwell, D‑Washington, the U.S. has been put on a path to restore a vital industry we pioneered but is now dominated across the Pacific by Taiwan and China.
The Biden-Harris administration has even managed, with the Inflation Reduction Act, to make a major investment in clean energy, at a time when impacts of climate change are being felt from drought conditions in the West to more powerful hurricanes hitting Florida and the Gulf Coast. The need for action is urgent, given the last eight years of record temperatures and last week’s United Nations report on Mother Earth’s rapidly shrinking glaciers.
It’s a record of recovery and incremental change — less ambitious than the proposals championed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus and its backers.
Biden supported expansive reform but found it blocked by two renegade Democrats in the U.S. Senate. However, substantial legislation was passed, even a modest gun safety bill, the first of its kind since 1994.
Biden is the oldest president in U.S. history, eleven years older than Ronald Reagan, who successfully sought the office at age sixty-nine.
On the very last episode of his FNC show, Tucker Carlson sneered at Biden with a claim that he’s suffering initial stages of dementia. It’s also a claim made by right wing hack Sean Hannity. In a nasty political climate, Biden even found himself heckled by ultra MAGA Republicans during his State of the Union speech.
The president toyed with them, which is what Biden needs to do. He campaigned from the basement of his Delaware home in 2016, before the COVID-19 vaccine was available for distribution. He can’t run like that again.
In countering ageist attacks, the President will need to be out on the hustings, and made more available to the press.
Biden’s White House has limited accessibility much in the manner of Reagan.
Biden has a history of malaprops, and once held forth so long at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee committee hearing that freshman Senator Barack Obama passed a note telling an aide, “Shoot me.” But he is an engaging, compassionate man, influenced by death of his son Beau eight years ago.
He has an ability to connect. Witness Biden’s speech on health, and interaction with diabetes patients, at Green River College a year ago.
The President has a major issue going for him – the right of women to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions. A right-dominated Supreme Court took away this right in many states with its Dobbs decision last year. Republican-run states have since rushed to drastically limit abortion rights.
In Florida, ultra MAGA Governor (and wannabe Trump successor) Ron DeSantis has just signed a bill making abortion illegal after just six weeks of pregnancy.
The Supremes’ action has split the country, with Washington among states that have continued to protect reproductive rights and access to abortion care. Voters have shown, however, even in such conservative states as Kansas, that they are pro-liberty. The issue is likely to remain with us, as the legality of medication abortion pills has already reached the Supreme Court and likely will return there.
Still, age rears its head. Biden is certain to be watched, with every verbal stumble reported and analyzed. So many lies have come from the mouth of a seventy-six year-old Trump that the country has grown used to his disinformation.
Biden’s age is likely to put Vice President Kamala Harris, his running mate, under a brighter spotlight. She is part of the Biden reelection rollout and is slated to lead an reproductive rights rally on Wednesday night.
Nobody can forecast the future of Ukraine, which the U.S. and NATO have supplied with arms, and which have thus far rolled back Russia’s invasion.
Biden has championed the cause, even making a risky trip to the embattled country to meet with President Zelensky. Republicans used to be adamant opponents of the old Soviet Union. But they are split on Putin’s murderous war of aggression, with the party’s far right wishing to abandon Ukraine.
A final plus for Biden: He faces no major challenger for the Democratic nomination. At his request, the DNC has rejiggered the primary calendar to open with South Carolina. It was a pivotal state in his 2016 run.
So far, his only non-Republican challengers are new-ager Marianne Williamson and anti-vaxxer Robert Kennedy, Jr. , one of Tucker Carlson’s guests in his last week on FNC. Neither is considered a credible candidate by most Democrats.
Joe Biden is with us after all these years. Can he prevail again next year in what he has accurately called a “battle for the soul of America?”