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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, February 26, 2024

Joe Biden should take some cues from George Washington

George Washington’s famous precedent should encourage Biden to not seek reelection.

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Joe Biden is pictured.

Joe Biden just turned 81 years old. He has served as U.S. President for three turbulent years, in which he has disastrously withdrawn from Afghanistan, ignored the people of East Palestine, Ohio and presided over a truly shocking crisis at the southern border. Despite these undeniable failures, Biden is still running for reelection, though he has hardly spent any time campaigning compared to his Republican counterparts. While Biden’s old age and mental acuity continue to concern voters, Karine Jean-Pierre, White House press secretary, nevertheless proclaimed during a press briefing that “eighty is the new forty.” This raises the question of why Biden needs to use the lower stairs of Air Force One, which allow him to enter the plane on a shorter staircase out of view from the media. Denial is rampant in the Biden administration, and the country is screaming for Biden to move aside for a younger, more able candidate to lead the country. Yet Biden refuses to back down, despite numerous gaffes and his frequent trips to the beach.

It perplexes me that Biden appears not to want what is best for the country. Most Americans prefer someone other than Biden, an observation that has been indicated by numerous polls. The American people are eager to move on, but Biden won’t let them, instead opting to run for reelection and promulgate “Bidenomics.” Why hasn’t Biden gotten the memo? His time is clearly coming to an end, as the aforementioned polls show.

The notion of stepping aside from the presidency was first established when George Washington famously set the precedent for serving a maximum of two terms in office. His reasoning was straightforward, as outlined in a letter to Jonathan Trumbull from 1799: “for although I have abundant cause to be thankful for the good health with [which] I am blessed, – yet I am not insensible to my declination in other respects. – It would be criminal therefore in me, although it should be the wish of my Country men, and I could be elected, to accept an Office under this conviction, which another would discharge with more ability.” Washington further described the sharp “line between parties” that were “so clearly developed” and how, if he ran for a third term, “personal influence would be of no avail.

Washington understood that his time was done: Political divisions became so apparent under his leadership that it was time to move on. He recognized that political factions were growing more hostile and attacking people’s character as opposed to their beliefs. Why do these reasons sound eerily similar to today?

Under Biden, the U.S. is no less divided from a partisan standpoint, contrary to his promise at the start of his presidency. It has become challenging to find common ground with people on relatively common issues. Biden is not helping himself nor his citizens by living in a constant state of denial about any and all issues. He proclaimed that the Afghanistan withdrawal was a success. He has increased the national debt by nearly $5 trillion. And his mental state is exceedingly questionable. 

Many think that Biden’s age will preclude him from governing effectively. According to Politico’s Jonathan Martin, Biden cannot govern or run for reelection in the manner of his predecessors. Not only does he not have the mental capacity, “his staff doesn’t trust him to even try,” which was made clear by his staffers blocking out the press. The Wall Street Journal further argued that Biden’s choice to run for reelection is “an act of profound selfishness.” 

There is a great deal of class in deciding to step down. Washington wrote that he would experience severe criticism, should he run for office again. On top of this, he described his “ardent wishes to pass through the vale of life in [retirement], undisturbed in the remnant of the days [he had] to sojourn here, unless called upon to defend [his] Country (which every citizen is bound to do).”

Similarly, after recognizing how badly he botched Vietnam, former President Lyndon B. Johnson decided to forgo reelection. He recognized the rift within his own party and knew that running would only worsen the situation. Given that Biden has overseen similar foreign policy disasters, most notably the withdrawal from Afghanistan, it seems that history might be in a position to repeat itself.

Biden ought to refresh his memory of early American history and recognize that there would be a great deal of good in his stepping aside. He would garner much respect and admiration from both parties because he would be putting aside his personal ambitions for the greater good of the country. Further, he would allow other Democratic candidates to have a chance against what will most likely be former President Donald Trump.

That said, there is one small problem: The Democrats have nobody to put up for U.S President. Word salad aficionado Vice President Kamala Harris is unelectable; Mayor Pete is nowhere to be seen and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. defected to the Independents. Biden needs to stay on course because the Democrats have no one else. Although voters are fed up with Biden, the Democrats have nobody who can replace him.

Biden is 81 years old. The average U.S. retirement age is 61 years old. Biden should make his next beach trip to Delaware a permanent one.