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    • Biden delivers a 2020 campaign speech in Columbia, South Carolina.

Decidin’ on Biden: Is 81 Too Old to Run?

Teddy Witt ’24 Lead Op/Ed Editor
In 19 months, millions of Americans will vote for the Democratic Party’s nominee for president.
In 19 months, millions of Americans will vote for the Democratic Party’s nominee for president. Who the nominee will be, however, is still not entirely clear. Joe Biden, sitting president, will presumably headline the party’s ticket if he chooses to run — but he hasn’t yet formally announced his candidacy. Marianne Williamson, a self described “activist and spiritual thought leader” is currently the only contender in the Democratic field, but others could potentially include Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. Amidst speculation surrounding Biden’s advanced age and low approval ratings, could and should another candidate announce a run at the nomination?

The race for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination has attracted a great deal of media attention in recent months. Despite being charged with 34 felonies, former-president Donald Trump’s campaign trail circus has kicked into full gear, complete with cartoonish villainy: “I am your retribution.” Ron DeSantis, Governor of Florida and anti-woke warrior, has emerged as a frontrunner. DeSantis isn’t a reasonable, middle-of-the-road Republican ready to finish off Trumpism: as Riley Foushee ’23, former Managing Editor of The Razor, wrote,  [DeSantis] is not more moderate than Trump; in fact, he has the potential to be more dangerous.” Opposite the right wing fray, though, the Democratic Party faces a fundamental question: Will the President of the United States run again? Joe Biden is almost prehistoric—he was first elected Senator during the Vietnam War—but in many ways he’s done an admirable job in his first term. Still, his health remains a concern, and his decision to approve the Willow Project, a vast oil drilling plan on federal land in Alaska, violated campaign promises and has alienated progressives, environmentalists, and young people alike. Ultimately, Biden needs to give way to the next generation of Democratic politicians, both to stop DeSantis and Trump in 2024 and to ensure the future of democracy and the world in the face of rising authoritarianism and climate crisis.

Biden’s main problem is his age. If he wins a second term — and with an approval rating of 38%, that’s a big “if” — he’ll be 82 by his inauguration and 86 by the time he leaves office. He’s already the oldest sitting president in history, beating out Ronald Reagan by nearly ten years. Reagan faced questions about alleged senility — with some accusations coming from his own son. So did Trump, with rumors spreading about his own mental decline near the end of his presidency. Will Biden be able to maintain a basic level of trust in the presidency as he gets into his mid-eighties? And, more importantly, will he be able to effectively govern the most powerful country in the world? There’s simply no precedent for a late octogenarian holding one of the most demanding and high stakes positions in the world — and that’s not even considering the possibility that he dies in office.

In terms of more immediate concerns, many are worried about his campaigning ability. Michelle Gold- berg, a columnist at the New York Times, writes that al- though “Biden was able to campaign virtually in 2020, in 2024 we will almost certainly be back to a grueling real-world campaign schedule, which he would have to power through while running the country.” Due to the lack of in-person campaigning during the pandemic, we have no idea how effective Biden can be on the campaign trail. And with his age and decades-old penchant for gaffes, debating opponents like DeSantis — 36 years his junior — is a daunting, almost unfair task. The Democratic Party cannot send out a 81-year-old whose main energies must go towards governing a country to win an argument against a 45-year-old Harvard lawyer.

There’s also the question of Biden’s popularity and future within the Democratic Party itself. His administration’s decision to approve the Willow Project freed up 600 million barrels of oil to be drilled by ConocoPhillips — subordinating the national and global need for climate action to the profits of an elite few. Biden was roundly and rightfully criticized by climate activists, teenagers, and young adults throughout
social media and in newspapers. These are key constituencies that a potential Biden campaign must mobilize in order to win a general election — yet he’s doing the opposite.

If Biden announces he won’t run for a second term, the obvious question is what happens to the Vice President: Kamala Harris has a lower approval rat- ing than Biden, and there are questions about whether she’ll be on the ticket even if he runs again. Given this uncertainty, Democrats would presumably hold a primary to determine the nominee. Harris, Pritzker, Michi- gan Governor Gretchen Whitmer — who have to this point ruled out a run at the presidency — and Buttigieg could all be contenders. No matter who the nominee is, whether Biden runs or not, one thing’s for sure: It’s time for a new wave of Democratic politicians responsive to the interests of young people and everyday Americans.
Editor in Chief 
Asher Joseph

Managing Editor 
Margaret Russell

Claire Billings
Jo Reymond
Rose Porosoff
Eric Roberts
Abby Rakotomavo
Elona Spiewak
Veena Scholand
Miriam Levin
Liliana Dumas
Saisha Ghai
Olivia Yu
Anya Mahajan
Rain Zeng
Winter Szarabajka
Aerin O'Brien

Karun Srihari
Samantha Bernstein
Hana Beauregard
Micah Betts
Elaina Paktuka
Edel Lee
Anjali van Bladel
Nate Gerber
Rebecca Li

Hailey Willey
Web Editors
Amelia Hudonogov-Foster
Anvi Pathak
Chloe Wang

Faculty Advisers
Stephen May
Elizabeth Gleason
Shanti Madison
The Razor's Edge reflects the opinion of 4/5 of the editorial board and will not be signed. The Razor welcomes letters to the editor but reserves the right to decide which letters to publish, and to edit letters for space reasons. Unsigned letters will not be published, but names may be withheld on request. Letters are subject to the same libel laws as articles. The views expressed in letters are not necessarily those of the editorial board.
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