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Last week, after months of speculation and doubt, Joe Biden, former second-in-command under President Barack Obama, launched his presidential bid through a three-minute video on his official Twitter account.
Joe Biden’s career, it can be fairly said, has thus far been defined by tragedy and failure. Months after being elected senator for Delaware in a 1972 campaign which initially gave him no chance of success, ex-public defender Biden lost his wife and one-year-old daughter in an automobile accident which saw a tractor-trailer collide with the family station wagon days before Christmas. Over a decade later, the senator returned to the spotlight, declaring his intention to run for President in 1988, but was forced to pull out after a bizarre scandal which involved accusations that he had plagiarised a speech by British Labour Party politician Neil Kinnock. 20 years later in 2008, Biden tried for a second time to run for the world’s top job but withdrew after his winning a mere 1% of the popular vote in the Iowa caucus of January 3rd left him red-faced. Most recently, after 8 years serving as Vice President under Barack Obama, Biden intended to make a third attempt for the presidency in 2016 as part of the Democratic Party blueprint to block Donald Trump from the White House. However, he declined the chance as a result of losing his 46-year-old son Beau, the boy who remarkably survived the automobile tragedy of 1972, to brain cancer.
Above: Biden at the funeral of his son Beau in 2015.
Now Biden is back, more determined than ever to go the whole way. Despite previously admitting that 2016 might have been his last chance, the 76-year-old said on Thursday that he simply ‘can not stand by and watch’ another 4 years of the Trump administration. Yet the man nicknamed by The Guardian as ‘Gaffer-in-chief’ because of a string of embarrassing slip-ups which include accidentally announcing his presidential bid weeks earlier than intended and praying for the soul of then-Irish taoiseach Brian Cowen’s mother in 2010 despite her still being alive, may have just made his biggest mistake yet by announcing that, for a third time, he will attempt to win the American people’s trust and be elected President of the United States.
Right now, there is a growing divide amongst Americans: those who despise Donald Trump, and those who love him. 3 years ago, Trump’s national populist movement won over the hearts and minds of 63 million US voters who saw his controversially bolshie message as a revolt against the liberal left’s persistent devotion to radical globalisation. Trump haters went down the road of demonising and disparaging the intentions of those they disagreed with, a smear campaign epitomised by Hillary Clinton’s ‘basket of deplorables’ speech, in which she categorised half of Trump voters as ‘racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic – Islamophobic – you name it’. Rather than win over voters, this miscalculated attack, made during Clinton’s most desperate days in which she could see the presidency slipping away from her, was slung directly at a large proportion of the kind of voters from whom she needed support from and alienated millions. More damaging for Clinton, her speech’s sentiments further reinforced the belief of those receptive to Trump’s message that they had been left behind by a political establishment who were only out for themselves. Rather than presenting to voters from all of America a coherently formulated policy platform which directly addressed their very valid concerns about immigration, globalisation, trade, and jobs, Clinton engaged in ad hominem, alienating attacks towards the very people on whom she relied on in order to win the 2016 election.
This stoking of division in favour of rationally addressing the legitimate demands of disenfranchised voters led to Democratic failure in 2016, and it would seem from Joe Biden’s candidacy clip that these fairly simple lessons have been thoroughly thrust aside in favour of the status quo mud-slinging.
In his video, released on Thursday, Biden makes an implicit connection between supporters of Trump and racist KKK marchers in Charlottesville, Virginia, and argues that he is entering into a ‘battle for the soul of this nation’, suggesting that Trumpian ideas, which seek to put ‘America First’, are somehow un-American. Favouring techniques of hyperbolic rhetoric about defeating evil and holier-than-thou forms of self-righteousness (even in spite of recent allegations of sexual harassment against him) will leave Biden’s legacy in the same puddle of failure in which Hillary Clinton continues to reside. Degrading and delegitimising the real concerns of millions of middle Americans will certainly help Biden to win the Democratic nomination, a party whose support base is largely made up of middle-class graduates, but will only serve to push away those who already feel ignored by the liberal elite in Washington.
Biden has wildly misfired in the tone of his candidacy bid, and his approach renders him an unlikely, and frankly undeserving, President of the United States. When looking at the Democratic field this election cycle, the forerunners of which include Biden and self-declared socialist Bernie Sanders, wavering voters who lent their support to Trump in 2016 will be highly unlikely to turn away from him. Trump’s winning, patriotic style of ‘Make America Great Again’ campaigning will, despite undergoing a minor reshaping into ‘Keep America Great’, remain largely unchanged in 2020. Unless likely Democratic nominee Joe Biden changes tack very quickly, he will have just guaranteed 4 more years of President Trump.