America has a love-hate relationship with Joe Biden, and no group sees that ring truer than with progressives. For every ardent Biden fan hoping the Vice President jumps into the 2016 race, there’s another liberal who rolls their eyes and goes to bed at night hoping, if not praying, that Biden opts to sit this one out.
I find myself in the latter camp. I like Joe Biden, and think he’d make the best Transportation Secretary America has ever had, hands-down, no contest. That sounds like a joke, but it’s unintended. He’s been a solid Vice President and has served in that role admirably. But when it comes to running in 2016, I just don’t see him winning the primary, let alone the general. He wouldn’t really change the conversation or impact the ideas of the other campaigns in a meaningful way. I can think of eight reasons why Joe Biden shouldn’t run in 2016, and most of these are strong enough on their own to bring his campaign to a stop before it even begins.
He’s Coping with a Tragic Loss
The Veep’s son, Beau Biden, tragically passed away in May of this year. Biden recently admitted that he isn’t sure if he has the emotional fuel for a presidential race, and who could blame him? I don’t have children personally, but if I did, and one of them passed so unexpectedly, I certainly wouldn’t want to think about a presidential election.
He’s a Wildcard In Debates
You never can tell which Joe Biden will show up at a debate. Will it be the fiery Mighty Joe Biden of the Paul Ryan debate from 2012? Will it be fumbling Joe Biden, who couldn’t knock out Sarah Palin in the 2008 VP debate, despite Palin being the easiest person to beat in the history of politics? Or will it be Uncle Fluffy from the 2008 primary debates (if you’ll pardon the West Wing reference), who just seems happy to feel included? It’s always a dice roll, and there’s too much at stake in this upcoming election to leave such things to chance.
Joe Biden’s gaffes are the stuff of legend. From causing a panic by telling people to avoid mass transit, to telling President Obama that their healthcare bill was “a big f—ing deal,” to his prediction that a major international crisis would unfold early on during President Obama’s first term, Joe Biden’s gaffes certainly kept satirists busy for the past seven years. But do we really want those unraveling a presidential campaign, and leaving the flood gates wide open for Donald Trump or Jeb Bush?
He Isn’t the Best Public Speaker
Joe Biden speaks passionately and he speaks from the heart. His speeches have more gravitas than most other potential candidates, excluding Bernie Sanders of course. But Biden lacks the finesse you need to really drive home a great presidential campaign. There are a great many reasons why Obama won in 2008 and 2012, but his speeches certainly played a key role in both victories. Can Joe Biden deliver a truly great speech? That remains to be seen, I’m afraid.
His Favorability Isn’t Quite Favorable Enough
Joe Biden’s favorability is sitting at 46%, versus 41% unfavorable, on aggregate, slightly below President Obama’s 48% favorability. Granted, these numbers will spike if Biden decides to enter the race; his newfound publicity would certainly pad these numbers a bit. But that publicity is a double-edged sword, as rival candidates from both parties will campaign against him by reminding everyone of his gaffes, many of which aren’t as cute or endearing as the ones we mentioned above. I’m not confident Biden’s favorability is strong enough now, in a dormant state, to pull him through an early mudslinging war.
I support President Obama. I backed his campaign the day he announced his candidacy in 2007, I’ve voted for him twice, and while I might not be happy with everything he’s done in office, I certainly believe he’s a great President with a great legacy ahead of him. But I don’t speak for a majority of Americans, and after watching Democrats foolishly distance themselves from President Obama’s accomplishments in the 2014 midterms, we can’t really expect those numbers to improve any time soon. That would serve as a serious drag on Biden’s 2016 campaign; Obama’s numbers will most likely improve before he leaves office, but not quickly enough to not harm Biden’s chances.
The Clown-Car Effect
The last thing the 2016 election cycle needs is more candidates. The GOP primary looks like a war scene out of Braveheart. I keep expecting to walk into a gas station and for a clerk to say “Hey, I’m running in the GOP primary, vote for me!” Democrats have largely avoided that fiasco; we have Bernie, Hillary, and two other candidates who both seem to be hoping for a VP nod. Joe Biden entering the race and dividing up the Democrats further is the last thing we need.
What Would His Platform Be?
What could Joe Biden run on in 2016 that isn’t already covered? Presently, the Democratic candidates are diverse; Bernie is the devout liberal with radical, but poignant and feasible, ideas, while Hillary is a pragmatic centrist with a reform-focused platform. The Republicans, by contrast, are all pretty much suggesting the same things as one-another, which is partly why Trump is scoring so big in that primary. What would Joe Biden introduce to this primary that no other candidate has already introduced? What fresh ideas will he bring to the table? What have been his pet projects while in the White House? Not many Americans can answer those questions out of hand, and that’s not really a good thing, given the size of his spotlight.
All told, in my opinion, Joe Biden should stay out of this race. He should choose a candidate (I want it to be Bernie, but I’m sure he’d pick Hillary), join them on the campaign trail, and help out in whatever ways he can. He should be focused on helping an existing candidate, and that candidate should strongly consider him for a cabinet position, or possibly even the role of Vice President, which, contrary to popular belief, is perfectly legal and acceptable. Because while Biden entering the race isn’t really a great idea, his endorsement would greatly help another candidate, and that, as the Veep would say, is a big f—ing deal.