Joe Biden: How Old is Too Old to Lead the Nation?

Joe Biden during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on Iraq in 2007. He is running for our nation’s highest office at age 76, and if elected would become the oldest president of the United States ever. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

“I was six years old when a presidential candidate came to the California Democratic Convention and said it’s time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans. That candidate was then-senator Joe Biden,” Representative Eric Swalwell said during the second night of the June Democratic primary debates. This convention was 32 years ago, in 1987, when the Cold War was still going on. Needless to say, a lot has happened since the Cold War. We’ve had two Bushes in the White House since then. The World Wide Web was invented two years later in 1989. Seinfeld aired for the first time that same year. Biden might have been the bright-eyed newcomer 32 years ago, but now it’s time for him to pass the torch to the next generation, as Swalwell said. 

Other than the fact that former Presidential candidate Swalwell said ‘pass the torch’ six times in under thirty seconds, he was spot on. Vice President Joe Biden is 76 years old. He is the second oldest candidate in the field; Senator Bernie Sanders is the oldest at age 77. Biden’s age should disqualify him from winning the primary because if he advances to the primary or the White House, it will be a huge danger. 

Franklin senior Aubrey King will be voting in his first election in 2020. Though he won’t be able to vote in the Democratic primary, he plans to vote for the Democratic nominee in the general election. He said that age is “such a big factor” in choosing a candidate, and had concerns about the older candidates. This reflects the general sentiment among Americans. A NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken February 24 through 27 with a margin of error of +/-3.2 percent found that 62 percent of voters were uncomfortable voting for a presidential candidate over the age of 75. 

If he became president, Biden would complete his first term at age 82. He would be the oldest person ever elected president of the United States. If elected for a second term, he would be our commander in chief until age 86. These numbers should shock voters into considering other candidates. 

Please take a moment to picture an 86 year old man. Now, what did they look like? Probably pretty frail. Probably in a retirement home. That man may be perfectly nice, but do I want him to control our nuclear arsenal? No, absolutely not. Because of this, whether or not Biden is healthy for his age, I cannot support him. 

Joe Biden has a remarkably light schedule on the campaign trail for a man running for the most intense and demanding job in the world. Having a busy schedule would prove to doubtful voters that Biden is capable of handling the stresses of the presidency. Instead, he has attended significantly fewer events than other candidates, including skipping the California Democratic Party Convention in June. 14 Democratic candidates were there, which is more than half of the field. Biden’s empty schedule gives validity to President Trump’s nickname for him, ‘Sleepy Joe’. 

Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren are the most progressive candidates in the Democratic field. One of their ambitious policy proposals is to make 4-year public college free. Combined with their plans to cancel most student debt, they have generated excitement among millenials. Biden is running on a more moderate platform, which results in his campaign feeling flat and tired. For example, he opposed decriminalizing crossing the border, which many of his more progressive opponents support.  

Biden’s biggest demographic strength is with black voters. They make up a large part of the Democratic electorate. He is leading all other candidates by a wide margin among this group. In a CNN/SQL Server Reporting Services national poll conducted September 5 through 9, among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who are registered to vote, 24 percent of people said they were most likely to vote for Biden. Warren was behind him, with 18 percent of voters saying they were most likely to vote for her. In the same poll, among black registered voters, Biden got 42 percent. The next candidate, Sanders, only got 12 percent, a whole 30 points behind Biden. 

The main reason for Biden’s support among black people is that he was the vice president and right-hand man to America’s first black president. His history with civil rights is also a likely factor. In 1995, as a senator, Biden voted against an anti-affirmative-action bill. Affirmative action is the policy of giving priority to groups that have experienced discrimination, especially people of color. Additionally, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) gave him a rating of 100 percent, the highest rating possible, on affirmative action in 2006. However, this is not enough. 

Secretary Hillary Clinton was also very popular among black voters. She won South Carolina by a landslide against Sanders in 2016, with 73.5 percent of the vote to Sanders’ 26 percent. Clinton had an even higher margin of victory among black voters, according to exit polls. Clinton’s win in South Carolina helped her box out Sanders and win the Democratic nomination in 2016. 

But in the general election, even with President Obama campaigning for her fiercely, Clinton’s name at the top of the ballot did not generate excitement at the polls among black communities in the same way as Obama’s did. Like Clinton, Biden is popular with black voters because of his association with the 44th president. But even more like Clinton, this association will not be strong enough to get people to the polls in November. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden is the frontrunner in the Democratic primary. His years of experience in politics are an asset, but he is already 76 years old, and would be 86 by the end of his second term if elected. Because of his advanced age and lifeless policies, we cannot expect Joe Biden to beat President Trump or run the country. 

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