If at First You Don’t Succeed: Biden’s Path to Presidency

As of Saturday, November 7, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was elected to be the 46th president of the United States of America. Though the presumed end of his political career came as he concluded his 45 years of public service as the Vice President in early 2017, Biden continued to pursue his career in politics.  

Defeating President Donald Trump, Biden is the oldest president-elect in United States History, and his running mate Kamala Harris is the first Black woman and person of South Asian descent to serve in that office.  

Though there is no guaranteed formula for becoming president, Biden’s path was unusual. He tried for over three decades, running twice unsuccessfully and then turning down the opportunity to succeed Obama.  

However, allies have said that it is this path that has made Biden qualified for the job and distinguished among other candidates, offering experience and empathy in a time of divisiveness.  

Karen Finney, a top aide to nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016, said to OregonLive that it was presidential to see what the country needed and understand what was going on.  

“Biden met the moment,” she said. 

Though Biden promised bipartisanship, a Democratic Senate majority at this point is unclear, and several Democratic House candidates lost, so the possibility of a divided government may test his promise.  

Running as a mainstream liberal with a policy agenda and no signature proposals while also facing criticism from his own party as too old, too moderate, too white, he emphasized his personal traits.  

Discussing his past as a senator would invite scrutiny about past stances, so Biden turned toward his earlier history. A childhood with a debilitating stutter, a car crash that killed his wife and daughter, his son’s death as an adult – all experiences that influenced his empathy.  

In the first speech he gave as president-elect, Biden once again leaned on unity and reached out to voters who had not voted for him. 

“It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric. Lower the temperature. See each other again. Listen to each other again. And to make progress we have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies. They are not our enemies. They’re Americans,” Biden said.  

By: Hannah Ramsey