At this point, there’s no way of telling whether Joe Biden, had he decided to run in 2016, would’ve won the Democratic nomination. Based on a piece I wrote in September of 2015, I had my doubts. My fear back then was that he would’ve siphoned off votes from the then presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton, all but guaranteeing Bernie Sanders the nomination. And I was quite adamant that Clinton was a much stronger candidate in a general election against Donald Trump, who I predicted months earlier would be the likely Republican nominee.
Well, as it turns out, I was half right. Trump did in fact win the GOP nomination, but Clinton turned out to be a flawed candidate who ran a lousy campaign against the worst candidate ever to run for political office in the history of the Republic. In retrospect, maybe Sanders could’ve won, especially in the all-too critical Rust Belt state region, where Clinton was never able to make a connection, and where Trump pulled an inside straight. Then again, who knows?
Unfortunately, there are no do overs in politics. The 2016 election has been relegated to the history books, and the man no one – except me – believed had an ice-cube’s chance of becoming president, is sitting in the Oval Office and doing to the country what he has managed to do to just about every thing else he’s gotten his hands on – destroy it. And while Democrats are tripping over themselves vying for the chance to limit the damage he’s doing to one term, one man sits in the bullpen contemplating what might’ve been and deciding whether or not his time has finally come.
I can’t begin to imagine what’s going through Biden’s mind. The man has wanted to be president longer than I’ve been an adult. Had it not been for the unfortunate plagiarism charge that ended his 1988 campaign, he, and not Michael Dukakis, might’ve won the Democratic nomination. And then in 2008, he came up short against a charismatic first-term senator by the name of Barack Obama. Whoever coined the expression “always the bridesmaid never the bride” had Joe Biden in mind.
Life presents us with only so many opportunities. At 76, this might be the former Vice President’s last chance at fulfilling a life-long dream. And, unlike 2016, there’s no establishment candidate out there for him to split the vote with. Indeed, Biden would be the establishment candidate running against a field that is far-more to the left than Hillary was. Bernie’s still there, but now he’s sharing the progressive spotlight with Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and, maybe, Beto O’Rourke. All support Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. A Biden candidacy could give the more pragmatic voters in the party a clear choice. And based on the polling, he would be the frontrunner.
Yes, Biden is a Democrat the way Bob Dole was a Republican. But that doesn’t mean he’s your typical run-of-the-mill centrist sellout. Lest we forget it was Biden who forced Obama to come out in support of gay rights when the latter would’ve preferred not to do so. Apart from his support of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act – admittedly a terrible error in judgment – the man has a story to tell, and that story will resonate with the part of the country that alluded Democrats in 2016. Does anyone seriously believe Biden couldn’t win Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin?
It’s now or never for Joe Biden. If he plans on running in 2020, he has to make up his mind soon. Time is running out. While he vacillates, the other Democrats who have announced are gaining momentum. Already Kamala Harris is solidifying her donor base in California, while Bernie’s crowds are rivaling even those of 2016. A Biden / Harris ticket would be a formidable foe for Trump. But until and unless Biden throws his hat into the ring, the country will never get the chance to vote for it.
Over the last 45 years, Joe Biden has served his country with distinction and honor. The romantic in me still thinks there’s one more chapter in his life to be written. And I can think of no better way to write it than with a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.