Kausar Fatima looks at a remarkable career
It is often said that Joe Biden’s long road to White House owes his elevation to the top political office in America to his longevity and the advanced age that is usually considered a handicap for a politicians running for the highest office in the land actually became a blessing for him. This certainly is not the whole truth as this estimation completely ignores the steadfast pursuance of his ambition that actually aided him to climb to the top. His longevity however granted him a mark of national recognition that was probably next to none and tremendously helped his campaign for the top office. Moreover, Joe Biden always remained on the right side of the people and institutions that matter in the political circles of America that stood him in good stead. He maintained his moderate stand on many issues and never veered into uncharted territory, a political trait that earned him widespread acceptance. His experience in the high echelons of American political establishment particularly his 8-year stint as the US vice president has greatly supported his rise.
Joe Biden was the long-serving US senator that who remained single-minded in his pursuit of the White House and finally succeeded. After spending two years in county-level politics, in 1972 he became one of the youngest senators in US history, representing the state of Delaware at the age of 29. The future US president married his first wife, Neilia Hunter, in 1966. Two years later, in 1968, he got a law degree from Syracuse University. However, tragedy soon struck the life of the young senator. His wife Neilia and their one-year daughter Naomi perished in a car accident just a few weeks after he won the election.
His sons Beau and Hunter Biden survived the accident. Their father had to be sworn in as senator in the hospital where the boys were hospitalised. Joe Biden considered resigning from the Senate to take care of his sons but he was persuaded not to do so by the senate majority leader, Michael Mansfield. If he had quit senate then it would have spelt the end of his political career. While working in the Senate, Biden commuted two hours on the train between Washington, DC, and his home in Delaware every day to be close to his two young boys. Joe Biden was particularly close to his son Beau and there was a great deal of mutual affection between father and the son. For Biden the family tragedy had been a source of consistent pain that could be gauged from the fact that to honour the memory of his late wife and daughter, Biden does not work on 18 December, the day of their fatal car crash.
The Democratic Biden presented himself as a young, energetic alternative to the incumbent Republican senator J. Caleb Boggs whom he defeated by a margin of 1.4% of the votes. He remarried in 1977 to educator Jill Tracy Jacobs. They have been together ever since and have one daughter, Ashley. The couple is rated to be close to each other and have lived a successful marital life. Jill Biden is committed to the political ambitions of her husband and is a willing partner in all his career moves. Young senator Joe Biden soon stood up in the house for championing environmental issues, consumer protection and government accountability.
Though Joe Biden avoided following contentious issue but still he made some controversial decisions during his 36 years as a US senator. In the mid-1970s, he became one of the leading voices on the Senate floor opposing busing, the practice of desegregating schools by busing in students from different communities. This was brought up during the debates of the 2020 Democratic nomination. In 1994, he helped pass the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, also known as the Clinton Crime Bill or Biden Crime Law. The law was heavily criticised for producing mass incarceration in underprivileged communities. Biden called the approval of the law a big mistake in 2009 and this admission endeared him to many. Biden’s record with the LGBT community hasn’t been good, either. In 1993, he voted for barring homosexuals serving in the military, and in 1996 he supported the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited same-sex marriages to be recognised at a federal level.
Though Biden presents a picture of a healthy individual despite his advanced years yet health problems separated Joe Biden from his government duties in 1988. Pain in the neck turned out to be a brain aneurysm. During recovery, he suffered a pulmonary embolism and a second aneurysm. Despite his health problems, the White House is something Joe Biden has always aspired to. In 1987, he campaigned for the Democratic nomination to run for president. However, his campaign was mired by the discovery that he had plagiarized speeches from British politician Neil Kinnock. The Labour Party leader took it amicably and the two remained on friendly terms. Biden sheepishly owned up taking words from Neil Kinnock’s speech while his supporters tried to justify that such words also conveyed Biden’s true feelings.
He tried again 20 years later, in 2007 and lost the party nomination against Barack Obama. However, Obama and Biden developed a mutual respect during the campaign and the Chicago politician offered Biden to be his Vice President. Biden left the Senate in 2009, becoming one of the top 20 longest-serving senators in US history. As Vice President, he cultivated an image of a relaxed, older uncle though he aroused plenty of smiles when he was seen always wearing aviator sunglasses. He worked well in tandem with Obama and was again chosen as his running mate for Obama’s second term.
Tragedy struck once again in the Biden family in 2015 when Beau Biden, the future president’s eldest son, passed away from brain cancer. He was 46. Biden decided not to run in 2016 since he was still grieving for his son. However, as he writes in his memoir ‘Promise me, Dad’, he promised Beau that no matter what, he would be okay. In 2020, 77-year-old Joe Biden finally had a chance to run for president. It was not an easy election, to say the least. There was a lot of criticism that both candidates were in their 70s and that Biden was four years older than the Republican incumbent, Donald Trump. Donald Trump even tried to pressure Ukrainian president Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden’s business in Ukraine in exchange to agree on a Congress-approved military aid package to the country.
That wasn’t the end of it, during the 2020 Presidential Election there were numerous allegations of Trump and his supporters attempting to overturn the voting and dismiss the official results. This culminated in the Capitol Assault of 6 January, 2021. It was one of the most embarrassing moments in US history. Some have even described it as a coup attempt. This led to the second attempt to impeach Donald Trump, despite being on his way out and this time under the charges of insurrection. Despite all of this, Joe Biden managed to become the 46th President of the United States. He has announced his intention to run in 2024, but getting reelected at 82 would not be an easy feat for him. TW