Can Joe Biden defeat Donald Trump?

Current New Statesman polling suggests that the Democrat presidential hopeful and veteran insider could end the Trump era on 3 November. If he succeeds, will he set the US on a path to renewal?

When Barack Obama chose his running mate in 2008, he did not pick somebody who was, like him, a history-making force. He went for Joe Biden, who, during the primary, had said of Obama, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.” And yet Obama chose him anyway.

Biden had decades of Senate experience, especially on foreign policy, that the Democratic presidential nominee lacked. But by choosing Biden, Obama showed he could overlook an older white man calling him “articulate” and “clean”. He could show voters, and specifically white voters, that saying “Yes We Can” didn’t have to be scary.

The US is on another journey with Joe Biden, who is trying to tell voters that what comes next need not be foreboding; it could be familiar, decent and safe. But after eight years of Obama and four years of Donald Trump, the US is split on the kind of trip it wants to take. Some Americans want to return to a sense of calm and normalcy in the wake of Covid-19, with a president who does not cast people who disagree with him as traitors, lambast the press as the enemy of the people, or say those who want greater racial justice hate their country. But other Americans believe that “normal”, with its societal dysfunctions and extreme inequalities, is what got us into this dark place.

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The first big question, then, is whether Biden can appeal to both those groups and win the White House. The second big question is what a Biden presidency will look like if he does.

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Joseph Robinette Biden Jr grew up in 1940s and 1950s Pennsylvania (in working-class Scranton, as he often mentions) and in Delaware, a sliver of America’s eastern seaboard between Washington, DC and New York City. His father was a used-car salesman descended from British and French immigrants. His mother, to go by Biden’s depictions of her, was an Irish-American matriarch. She was the sort of parent who, on learning that a teacher had made fun of her son’s stutter, threatened to beat up the teacher.

Biden was not a strong student, but he was popular, an athlete, and became class president. He studied history and political science at the University of Delaware. This was the 1960s, but Biden was hardly part of the counterculture. He got married (to Neilia Hunter, a teacher he had met on spring break), had three children and studied for a law degree at Syracuse University College of Law – studies that Biden deemed “boring”.

Law was interesting in one way, though: it helped bring him into politics. In 1969 Biden began working at the law firm of a politically active Democrat, Sid Balick, who nominated him to a …read more

Source:: New Statesman

      

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