It’s no secret that the political climate has…changed in recent years, to put it lightly. Five years ago, few would have thought a man like Donald Trump would stand a chance at becoming president. And yet, here we are. The political divide and the wealth gap have only deepened in this country, and with the 2020 election cycle right around the corner it stands to reason that it’s only going to become more prevalent. Health care and economic disparities are going to be huge talking points once again.
So yes, things have changed. Which is why I think Joe Biden running for president might end up being a terrible idea.
Let me be clear: I have nothing against Biden personally. I don’t know enough about the man in all honesty. But from what little I have seen from him, I know that he will, much like Hillary Clinton in 2016, have a lot of trouble attracting younger voters. Voter turnout may have been higher in the 2016 election than in previous years (roughly 58% of eligible voters showed up), but there was lower turnout in key areas that ultimately led to Clinton losing those electoral college votes. And a big part of that likely had to do with younger voters’ apathy towards the Clinton campaign. She just simply couldn’t engage them on the same level that Obama had during his run.
And I’m afraid the same thing will happen if Biden wins the nomination. Not because he’s old or a man. Because he’s simply…familiar.
He’s too similar to the politicians that younger generations have been railing against for years. He claims to be a middle-class American (Middle-Class Joe), but his net worth is still probably near a million dollars. Not to mention that since leaving office, he’s made plenty of money off of speaking gigs as signed a book deal that’s likely to bring him an even heftier sum of money. All of these things don’t necessarily doom him, but they damage his attempt to position himself as relatable to blue-collar individuals.
And some of the things he’s said could come back to haunt him. Last year on Trump he said he would “take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him” if they were in high school. It may have just been a joke, but in the world of politics perception is everything. And then there’s what he said on income inequality: “I don’t think 500 billionaires are the reason we’re in trouble. The folks at the top aren’t bad guys. But this gap is yawning, and it’s having the effect of pulling us apart. You see the politics of it.” It’s like he’s trying to juggle having a stance on the issue while not ruffling the feathers of the big money donors that back him. By contrast, someone like Bernie Sanders has a consistent stance on those kind of issues and isn’t held back by big, corporate money donors.
As of this writing, Biden hasn’t officially announced his campaign yet. But he still holds a considerable margin over the other democratic candidates according to at least one poll. And maybe I’m just missing something, but he seems like just more of the same. If he wins the nomination, Republicans will have a field day tearing down his “Middle-Class Joe” image and painting him as a stodgy, out of touch political insider.
Because this election isn’t just about defeating Trump. It’s about breaking the cycle of politics that has been dominant for decades. It’s about future generations finding a reason to be hopeful again. It’s about once and for all changing things for the better.
Those that come after us deserve a chance to have a good life, rather than deal with the consequences of our excess, don’t you think?