In light of the recent visit to the UK by President Trump, and the giant, nappy-clad blimp that greeted this controversial albeit intriguing political figure, one might be forgiven for imagining that his bid for re-election is doomed.
This is simply not the case. Although the Clinton campaign was flaccid, credit must be given to Trump and his team for what was undoubtedly a very effective, although morally dubious, presidential campaign. Trump managed not only to dominate airtime but also to manipulate the electorate’s emotions to win himself the keys to power.
There is no reason to suggest that his campaign in 2020 should be any less effective. There is also the added concern for any prospective opposition heading into an election that most presidents are elected for two terms. So, rather than facing a certain win, the odds are heavily stacked against the opposition candidate.
One person who could overcome these odds is Joe Biden. Yes, 75-year-old Joe Biden would be my presidential candidate of choice for three main reasons: experience, appeal and emotion.
Biden’s experience is unparalleled and would be invaluable when facing Trump as he knows what works and what does not based on his own successes and failures. He could draw on the wealth of experience gained during his time as a senator and as Vice President to win over a deep divided public.
Biden has often been presented as one of the most powerful Vice Presidents in history, having exerted a huge amount of control over not only the economy with the Economic Recovery Act but also on other issues such as environmental protection. He also has a huge amount of experience shaping American politics outside of the role of VP having sat on both the Foreign Relations Committee and the Judiciary Committee where he authored or shepherded almost every bill during the 1990s and early 2000s.
Although having political experience is often associated with being a member of the despised establishment, it is doubtless invaluable when running a presidential campaign. Biden would be far from the first former Vice President to graduate to the highest office. The importance of experience is far from obsolete in politics, and Biden has experience in abundance.
Biden’s appeal bridges traditional political divisions – his endorsement is highly sought after by Democratic candidates given his popularity with ‘Middle America’. His humble origins (born into a working-class family in Scranton, Pennsylvania) and his preference for bluntness over spin or obfuscation (whether this is telling Obama that the affordable care act was a “big f*cking deal”, or saying he would “beat the hell out” of Trump) mean he is a figure with great popular appeal.
Trump’s election proves that the appetite for political correctness is waning. It is also important to note that Joe Biden’s brand of popular centrism is far from dying out - according to data from Harvard CAPS Biden is in fact the most popular choice for the democratic nominee for the 2020 Presidential election. Mark Penn, Harvard CAPS co-director, says the results favour “someone who has an appeal to the working-class voters that Trump captured”.
Biden is just that man. He fuses political experience with a vitality lacking in politicians significantly his junior - he has not been whitewashed into a political automaton who just regurgitates the usual tired clichés. Biden’s personality still very much shines through into his politics and campaigning. Elections can sometimes be won on personality alone, and Biden certainly isn’t lacking in personality.
Finally, Biden is capable of winning the emotional battle and this is absolutely critical when facing Trump, who seemed to win the last presidential election on a ticket of emotion over fact or policy. Biden’s passion and patriotism are values held in high esteem in the US. He has a history for roof-raising monologues in the past, and it is clear to see that age has not tempered the fire with in him. This can be seen most recently with his interview with Nick Clegg, where he speaks about his passion for his country, and family.
Passion and patriotism are the most important tools in American politics as they play well with the media, and without the news channels and chat shows hanging on your every word, your chances are slim. Hillary Clinton discovered this to her cost, but Biden is unlikely to make the same mistake.
So, there we have it. Biden combines the shrewdness of a veteran political operator, with the enthusiasm of a newcomer and the patriotism of a populist. It is of course too early to tell, but Biden may well be the man to defeat Trump in 2020.