Joe Biden has tried to become the president of the United States for three decades, contesting three times in total. That dream became a reality on Saturday when he knocked out President Donald Trump in the race for the White House.
But did you know? He would have been nowhere in the picture regarding the race to occupy the White House if he had gone ahead with what he contemplated doing during one of the darkest moments of his life? He had just won the senate seat for Delaware and his joy was cut short – and snatched away – when his wife and 13-month-old daughter were killed in a ghastly car accident, moving him to consider taking his own life. That was on December 18, 1972.
“For the first time in my life, I understood how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide,” he once shared of his experience grieving their death.
|Biden with his wife and daughter who died in that accident. His eldest son who survived died when he was vice-president|
“I was angry … I was a practising Catholic at the time, but I was mad at God, oh man … I remember looking up and saying, ‘God.’ I was talking to God myself: ‘God, you can’t be good. How can you be good?’”
As a single-dad, he would later be sworn in as the US fifth-youngest senator at the Wilmington Medical Center where his two sons who had survived the accident were being treated.
After his sons were discharged, a devastated Biden chose to remain in Wilmington, commuting to and fro Washington DC every day, first by car and then by train, “in order to tuck his sons in bed at night and see them get up in the morning.”
He remained a single parent until June 1977 when he married Jill, his current wife whom he had met on a blind date and had to propose to five times before she agreed to marry him.
‘TRAVELLED TWO MILLION MILES ON TRAIN’
The 110-mile train commute would later turn into a habit he has maintained, making it an indelible part of his life and earning him the name, “Amtrak Joe”, in reference to the travel company running the train service. During one of his rides, he had also met Kamala Harris long before he chose her as his running mate.
In 2017, the former vice president said he has made roughly 8,000 round trips between his home state of Delaware and Washington DC, totalling about or 2.1 million miles, and even has one of the train stations named after him.
|Has kept a very good relationship with Obama even after the White House years|
In an article he wrote while serving as US vice-president, Biden captured his essence as a father and husband, much more than just a senator at the time, writing about how he was ready to miss a crucial senate sitting to catch the train home and be there for the birthday package the daughter had prepared for him.
STANDING AGAINST BULLIES GROWING UP – AND NOW
While growing up in Claymont, Delaware, Biden — from a middle-aged family with his father working as a used car salesman — had a rough childhood due to his debilitating stutter. At school in Delaware, classmates mocked him for stammering and nicknamed him ‘bye-bye’ when he attempted to say his last name.
“I can think of nothing else that has ever stripped me of my dignity as quickly and as profoundly and as thoroughly as when I stuttered in grade school,” he once said of an experience which his sister said earned him courageous to stand up to bullies in his life.
And that included the ‘bullying’ president he ran against.
|Biden didn’t allow Trump crush his spirit|
Running for the US presidential election for the third time and 32 years after his first shot at occupying the White House, Biden slugged it out with Trump who described him as the “worst presidential candidate” America has ever had and therefore, stood no chance at victory.
However, by the evening of Saturday, Biden had proved him wrong after securing more than the required 270 electoral votes and over 74 million in total – the highest votes tally for a presidential candidate in the country’s history.
If the Democrat wins in court where Trump is challenging the outcome, he would become the oldest president inaugurated in US history while Trump, described as a “divisive” and “bullying”president, would return to the sidelines as the first incumbent to lose his re-election bid in more than 25 years.
When Biden declared interest to seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump, the 77-year-old said Americans are “living through a battle for the soul of this nation,” warning that if Trump gets a second term, “he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are, and I cannot stand by and watch that happen.”
In response, the US president, who thinks himself as a genius, described him as “Sleepy Joe,” saying he hoped that “you have the intelligence … to wage a successful primary campaign.”
|A family moment after beating Trump in the election|
THE ZENITH OF A 50-YEAR POLITICAL CAREER
A graduate of history, political science and law, Biden has been knocking around American politics for half a century, beginning his political career as a member of the New Castle county council in Delaware in 1970, exactly 50 years ago when Richard Nixon was in the White House.
He spent eight years serving in the Obama administration and 36 years in the senate where he was linked to a number of controversial issues including the comprehensive crime control act which he supported but later regretted backing, and the race-integration busing – the practice of assigning and transporting students to schools within or outside their local school districts in an effort to diversify the racial make-up of schools – which he opposed. He was also a ranking senator, chairing at various times key committees including those on judiciary and foreign relations.
After being sworn in as the 47th vice-president of the United States in January 2009, becoming the country’s first Roman Catholic vice president, he said he will be different from his predecessors, and that he had simply told Obama that “I want to be there … in the room… when you make every critical decision you make.”
They ended not just as colleagues but as friends and brothers, with Bidden saying earlier this year that serving under Obama was “the greatest honour of my life.”
Towards the end of his tenure as vice-president, he was said to be seriously considering to contest in the 2016 presidential election, with his supporters even establishing the “Draft Biden 2016” political action committee (PAC) to back him.
However, he later announced his decision not to contest after he earlier admitted that his son’s death drained his emotional energy, saying: “Nobody has a right… to seek that office unless they’re willing to give it 110% of who they are.”
As vice-president, Biden played active role in the Obama administration on many fronts, including overseeing a $787 billion economic stimulus package, running a middle-class task force, being actively involved in US policies with the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and reviving an arms reduction treaty with Russia.
WHAT A BIDEN PRESIDENCY WOULD LOOK LIKE
Biden has promised to “make America, America again” by uniting a deeply divided country, but pundits have suggested his administration will look to restore and expand the policies introduced by former President Barack Obama, much of which the Trump administration has annihilated.
Much of what would be on his agenda would be swerving the course of America’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, a health crisis he has often tackled Trump of failing to nip in the bud. Americans are most likely going to see more radical measures as he chooses “science over fiction” for a country that has lost more than 220,000 of its citizens to the pandemic.
With millions of Americans being forced out of job, Biden will be looking to restart the US economy, having promised to among other things, invest hundreds of billions of dollars in US industry, provide loans to small companies and look to implement the $15 national minimum wage, almost double the current rate.
With an age-long interest in climate change, introducing the Global climate protection act during his time in the senate, he had also promised to put America back at the forefront of the fight against climate change which the country has literally abandoned with Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris pact, while back at the home front, will be looking to calm the racial tensions the US has been fraught with lately.
Regarding the US foreign policy, in contrast to Trump’s image as an outlier on the international stage, Biden is likely going to focus on “reconciling” with America’s allies and embracing institutions his predecessor has demonised, such as North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He has promised to “renew our own democracy and alliances, protect our economic future, and once more place America at the head of the table, leading the world to address the most urgent global challenges.”
The incoming US president had also hinted on strengthening the US health care law which he and Obama birthed, known as Obamacare is going to return to the scene after the Trump administration tried to scrap it, causing healthcare to become more difficult to access for millions of Americans.
Coming at a moment of division in America, the Biden administration, as he recently said, looks poised “to heal this nation” at “a time to build up,” drawing strength from the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes 3:3. “God and history have called us to this moment and to this mission … that is my goal. That is why I’m running.”
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