Is Joe Biden Too Old to be President? President Joe Biden, and his Democratic Party, are trending in the right direction. Gas prices are finally going down. Democrats have jammed through a handful of meaningful legislation. The GOP’s draconian stance on abortion (plus Senator Linsday Graham’s foolish call for a nationwide abortion ban after 15-weeks) is proving widely unpopular. Accordingly, Democrats are on the rebound. Biden’s poll numbers are ticking upwards – at about 44 percent, he is as popular as he has been in the last eleven months.
Granted, there wasn’t really anywhere for Biden to go but up; his poll ratings over the summer cratered, lower than either Trump’s or Carter’s, each of whom were one-term presidents. But both Trump and Carter ran for a second-term. To date, Biden has still restrained from announcing his intentions to run again, leaving the general population to speculate: will Biden run again?
“Not yet,” Jill Biden said, “we’ve been a little too busy, but I’m sure it’ll be a discussion.”
Joe Biden has asserted that he indeed means to run for reelection. However, he has not declared his candidacy, causing analysts to question whether the oldest president ever has another campaign and term in him.
“It’s not death that’s the worrying thing about a second Biden term,” Rober Reich, himself a 76-year-old, wrote. “It’s the dwindling capacities that go with aging.” Reich speaks from first-hand experience. “I’m sure the resident is experiencing some diminution in the memory department. I know I am.”
And no, it’s not ageism to point out that Biden may be too old to run. “I don’t think this reflects an “ageist” prejudice against those who have reached such withering heights so much as an understanding that people in their late 70s and 80s wither,” Reich wrote.
Biden, who turns 80 this year, is already the oldest president ever. If he were elected for a second term, he would be 86 when he left office. That leaves plenty of time for Biden to diminish further from his contemporary state – which frankly already appears to have diminished. Check out some old footage of Biden from his Senate or VP days – he’s notably sharper and more articulate. And although Reich isn’t concerned with Biden expiring, perhaps Reich should be; the US life expectancy is 76 years old. Of course, the president has access to the highest quality, most proactive health care in the world, and he is allegedly healthy – but Biden did pass the US life expectancy threshold two years ago. Everything now is just a bonus, with house money. Were Biden elected to a second term, he would need to live ten years past the US life expectancy to complete the term. If the US population is going to elect a president so old, they’d better be comfortable with their VP choice, too.
Representative Tim Ryan, a Democrat from Ohio, is skeptical that Biden can handle another run. “My hunch is that we need new leadership across the board – Democrats, Republicans – I think it’s time for a gernational move,” Ryan said. “ The President said from the very beginning he was going to be a bridge to the next generation, which is basically what I was saying.”
Biden definitely did refer to himself as a “bridge.”
“Look, I view myself as a bridge, not as anything else,” Biden said during the 2020 campaign. “There’s an entire generation of leaders you saw stand behind me. They are the future of this country.” Biden failed to mention however how many terms his bridge would span. And of course, there’s a big difference between being on the campaign trail and being in the White House; it’s easy to say the right thing, the righteous thing on the campaign trail – doing it – it in this case, relinquishing power voluntarily – once you occupy the most powerful position in human history, is an entirely different thing.
Biden has been striving for the presidency his entire professional life – likely longer. It seems unlikely that he would voluntarily opt out of a second term now that he has the job he spent decades chasing. Biden should opt out, of course. He will be in his eighties. But incumbent presidents with a term left in eligibility aren’t known for walking away from a reelection run. No president has decided not to run since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968, meaning Biden would be the first to do so in over fifty years.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken. Follow him on Twitter @harrison_kass.