By 2024, Joe Biden’s age will be a potential hindrance to his presidential ambitions. If he runs, he will have to make a difficult sacrifice for the benefit of his country.
T he results of a Washington Post-ABC News poll, taken this month, revealed that because of President Joe Biden’s age, most Americans don’t think Biden’s best days are ahead of him, therefore he should not run for reelection. The reality is that Biden’s age won’t stop him from seeking reelection, but it might force a very difficult sacrifice in 2024!!!
Anyone who thinks that they can stop a President who wants to run for reelection from doing so has a better chance of winning the next billion-dollar lottery than stopping a President from doing so. A President is in charge and the boss of his or her political party. That’s why the Republican Party had no traditional party platform to run on in the 2020 election, the then-Republican President Donald Trump didn’t want one. The President also controls the nominating process of his or her political party. That’s why Democrats just removed Iowa as its traditional first nominating election for 2024. The current Democrat President Biden wants it to be, and it will be South Carolina.
While it’s true the President is the boss, he or she is not the king, queen, or dictator of their political party. Other party-elected officials and other party members do have a say, which is why although Democrats cannot stop Biden from running again, Democrats can demand the same sacrifice Democrats demanded of Franklin Roosevelt in 1944. Not only was 1944 a presidential election year, but it was also the last full year of World War 2, and then-President Roosevelt felt it was his duty to finish the war by seeking reelection to an unprecedented fourth term. The problem was that by 1944, everyone who had been in the physical presence of Roosevelt believed his death to be imminent and that if he were reelected, he would not live long enough to serve another full 4-year term as President.
The belief that Roosevelt would not live to complete his term placed unprecedented scrutiny on Roosevelt’s own hand-picked Vice President Henry Wallace. The belief by a group of powerful Democrat Party leaders that Wallace’s political ideology was too liberal to succeed Roosevelt as President upon his certain future death, forced Roosevelt to sacrifice Wallace as his running mate in the 1944 election, and replace him with Harry Truman to preserve Democrat Party peace and unity.
Roosevelt liked Wallace and did not agree with the negative assessment of him by Democrat Party leaders, but Roosevelt recognized that the strong belief he would not live out another 4-year term made many uncomfortable with the idea of Wallace replacing him, made Wallace a potentially lethal threat to Roosevelt’s reelection so he reluctantly agreed to sacrifice him for Truman. Wallace demonstrated his loyalty to Roosevelt and his commitment to doing what was best for America, by not only becoming a vice presidential sacrifice but making his sacrifice politically acceptable to his many supporters, by agreeing to continue to serve in Roosevelt’s cabinet as Secretary of Commerce.
Unfortunately, and by many accounts unfairly, primarily because of Biden’s age, and if certain perceptions don’t change, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will be challenged to make the same 1944 vice presidential sacrifice. Regardless of the fact that, unlike Roosevelt in 1944, Biden’s appearance does not convey the message that his death is imminent, his age of 80 years old makes many doubt his ability to serve another 4-year term as President. Regardless if she has justly earned it or is unjustly accused of it, right now, in 2023, Vice President Harris is perceived as not capable of leading America as President if Biden is unable to complete a second term.
An aggregate of 2023 polls compiled by the polling site FiveThirtyEight indicates an average of only 39% of Americans approve of Vice President Harris’s job performance. A recent New York Times article reported that “some Democrats whom her own advisers referred reporters to for supportive quotes confided privately that they had lost hope in her.” Biden’s age is a permanent campaign issue, but there is still an opportunity to make questions surrounding Vice President Harris’s competence disappear.
A year from now, when Biden’s age will still be an issue and if the question of competence still remains an issue for Harris, hopefully for Democrats, she would follow the lead of her 1944 predecessor, former Vice President Henry Wallace, and gracefully step aside with no public opposition, preventing any fallout among a key component of the Democrat Party voting base, American Black women. Wallace felt for the good of America that it was more important for Franklin Roosevelt to be reelected as President than for him to be reelected as Vice President. For the good of the Democrat Party and President Biden’s reelection possibilities, if perceptions of her don’t change, Harris must make the vice presidential sacrifice, knowing Biden’s reelection as President is far more important than her reelection as America’s first black Vice President.
If it becomes necessary for Vice President Harris to make her sacrifice, and she does so willingly with no public controversy, the next fallout landmine President Biden will need to avoid is the leadership-heir landmine. President Biden can’t be perceived as anointing or giving any Democrat an advantage in succeeding him as President or succeeding him as leader of the Democrat Party. Vice President Harris’s replacement must publically pledge to be a JUST IN CASE Vice President, with no intention of running for reelection as President if they have to replace Biden before his 4-year term expires, and with no intention of running for President if and after Biden completes his 4-year term.
The 2024 election will reverse the traditional logic that voters don’t vote for a candidate for President based on who is running as the Vice President. Since Biden’s age makes many voters doubt his ability to serve out a second 4-year term, American voters in 2024, for the first time in American political history, will vote for or against President Biden based on who would be the Vice President to replace Biden if and when he has to resign for health reasons. This means it must be a Vice President, black or white, male or female, that Americans believe has the knowledge, experience, and competence to be President. Currently, fairly or unfairly, right or wrong, a majority of Americans don’t think Vice President Harris is that person.
There is still a lot of time left before 2024 for Vice President Harris to reassure Americans that she has the knowledge, experience, and competence to lead America. If she fails to do so, there is one Democrat whose knowledge, experience, and competence to be President cannot be objectively questioned or doubted. This Democrat would also help Biden avoid the leadership-heir landmine, by being creditable enough to make the pledge of being a just-in-case Vice President with no future intention of ever seeking to be elected President, that Democrat is Hillary Clinton, who also has the potential to bring as a consolation prize to Democrats, many new American voters in 2024 who now regret their 2016 vote for Donald Trump and not her.
President Biden’s age will not stop him from being the 2024 Democrat Party nominee for President, but depending on who is the 2024 Democrat Party nominee for Vice President, Biden’s age will stop him from being reelected as President. Biden’s age might mean that Vice President Harris has to make a 1944 Henry Wallace vice presidential sacrifice if negative perceptions of her do not change. If American Black female Democrat Party voters intend on re-winning the White House in 2024, this is a cold hard fact they must accept. While continuing equal or higher turn-out-to-vote numbers for Biden in 2024 than in 2020, even though the 2024 Democrat nominee for Vice President is not Kamala Harris.
The Joe Biden/Kamala Harris team has accomplished a lot of tremendous things in just 2 years. More than what some other administrations have accomplished in 4 years. Whatever happens in 2024, they both can be proud of that fact.
If Democrats intend to re-win the White House in 2024, Biden’s age is a cold hard fact the Democrat Party must confront while not allowing, if the need arises, the process of replacing Vice President Harris to become a Democrat Party leadership succession competition that divides the Democrat Party. Replacing Vice President Harris must be a just-in-case Biden’s health fails non-competitive selection of one who pledges not to seek election as President, which will unite the Democrat Party in 2024. Democrats will have plenty of time after the 2024 election to debate, fight, and manipulate who will be their new 2028 leader.
— AUTHOR —
▫ Isaac Newton Farris Jr., Nephew of Martin Luther King Jr, he serves as Senior Fellow at King Center. Growing up in one of the most socially & politically active families has given him a unique perspective on current events.
▪ Text: This piece was originally published in Isaac Newton Farris Jr’s blog and re-published in PMP Magazine on 15 February 2023, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.
▪ Cover: Flickr/The White House. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)