My hand shook as I wrote the title to this column. I don’t think Joe Biden should run for re-election, but he is considering another term. That scares me. I fear that is a lose-lose situation. If the President is re-elected, he will, in my opinion, be too old to complete another four years in office in a successful fashion. If he loses, Donald Trump or a Trump-wanna-be may be elected.
I want to see Joe Biden announce that he will not seek another term. That would clear the way for the Democratic party to find a new leader—a leader who can run for president without Republicans shouting that he or she is too old even though most of the rest of us think the same thing.
Eighty years old is too old for anyone to be president, let alone 86, an age Biden would reach at the end of his second term if he were re-elected. The risk is too great that he may become incapacitated or, even worse, die in office.
Although Biden has been a successful president, he is not indispensable. Another moderate Democrat could assume his mantle, embrace his agenda, and carry America forward. A new face also will be more appealing to younger voters and eliminate the age issue from the 2024 race for Democrats.
Ideally, Biden would announce a decision not to run for re-election soon, perhaps in January. That timetable will give the Democrats sufficient time to determine who their candidate should be. If that process is conducted with an awareness that a divided Democratic party will pave the road for a return of Trump or another Republican, the party will be poised for victory in 2024.
Some suggest that should Biden announce he is not running, he will be a lame duck for his last two years in office. That is technically true. But the case of Joe Biden is unique. His decision will be seen as unselfish. The public will view it positively, not only Democrats but most other voters. This decision could result in Biden enjoying higher popularity ratings than he has to date for the last two years of his Presidency.
If Biden bows out of 2024, he also will be a less inviting target for Republicans. Kevin McCarthy’s House already plans to investigate Biden, his son Hunter, Attorney General Garland, the FBI and who knows who else. Maybe they will be less aggressive if their target has already announced his retirement. And the American people may resent a party that attacks a president who unselfishly sacrificed the glory of re-election for the good of the country.
Legislatively, the next two years will be challenging for Biden and the Democrats. That situation could change if the public rallied around Biden after he made his announcement. It would be naïve to expect the party to move forward an aggressive progressive agenda, but bipartisan legislation could, ironically, become easier to pass if Biden were not running.
If Biden doesn’t run, he also will be freed from the exhausting burden of campaigning. This will enable him to work not only with Congress, but also further his agenda through regulations and executive orders. A Biden focused on the next two years rather than the next six will get more done. The country will benefit.
Sometimes I am asked about my choice for president in 2024. I don’t like the question. It is too early to answer responsibly. America needs to get a closer look at multiple Democratic candidates if the right one is to be chosen as the party’s new leader. Who would I like to see in the group? Kamala Harris, of course, but also Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Gretchen Whitmer, and a few more fresh faces. Don’t forget that in 2007 nobody foresaw Obama being elected president in 2008. Are there exciting new faces in the Democratic party yet to be discovered? Count on it.
President Biden can be confident that between now and when the party nominates its candidate for 2024, a strong candidate, capable of defeating Trump, DeSantis, or someone else hoping to return America to the 1950s, will emerge.
J.E. Dean is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant writing on politics, government, and other subjects.