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Joe’s Candidacy: Biden His Time

April 5th, 2019 by dk

After the 2016 presidential election, I pledged never to vote for another Baby Boomer. Boomers have prevailed in the last seven, almost always beating other boomers. We’ve overstayed our welcome on the stage.

I’m glad the Democratic field includes plenty of young talent. One of them might catch fire in the months ahead. Until that happens, I’m reserving my right to keep my promise in the opposite direction.

Pre-boomer Bernie Sanders might be able to build a movement beneath his candidacy, pitting himself against a Republican candidate who has also shown an ability to energize his political base. Unfortunately for the country, neither has shown much ongoing interest in attracting centrists.

I’m afraid a Sanders candidacy would be foiled by the electoral college. He could win by huge margins in a few large states like New York and California, but lose too many other states by small margins. Democrats have won the popular vote and lost the election this way too often.

Joe Biden, another member of the generation before boomers, might be another story. He hasn’t yet announced his candidacy, but all signs point to him joining the race for the White House for a third, last time. He would be an attractive candidate in the Midwestern states that Hillary neglected before the election, and Trump’s policies have neglected since.

A Biden campaign would be stronger if he did two things immediately that no modern presidential candidate has done. First, he should select a running mate who is younger than 55 — not a boomer — who will excite the activist wing of the Democratic party.

Running mates typically are announced shortly before the summer political convention, just months before the general election. That tradition may have outlasted its usefulness. Campaigning as a ticket across the country for 18 months would break through with a clear message or generational transition.

Biden’s second innovation would strengthen his first. He should pledge to serve only one term and to endorse his running mate in the 2024 election. This will dramatically change the job description for the Vice President, in a way that only a former vice president could do.

Youthful presidential candidates more typically tap an older political veteran as their running mate. Barack Obama chose Biden for exactly this reason, following the lead of George W. Bush picking Dick Cheney, and John Kennedy running with Lyndon Johnson.

Flip that model on its head. Give a 2024 candidate four years of job training before they vie to take that seat behind the Resolute desk.

The 2020 election will involve some very difficult conversations, for liberals and centrists alike. Everybody wants the county to move forward. A new generation of leaders must emerge. But many Americans also desperately want to undo the results of our 2016 election. Many want a do-over.

Biden represents a unique opportunity to rewind, reset, undo the last four years. Only an elder statesman could give the world confidence that America still knows how to correct its mistakes. But Biden could do more. He could prepare us for a brighter future, aiding his running mate’s 2024 campaign by promising to train her.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at

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