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  • Writer's pictureGeopolitics.Λsia

A Good President

This piece does not judge President Biden solely based on his recent debate with Trump, but rather considers the long road of his entire career and life path. From his youth to his role as a loyal Vice President to Obama, Biden has been known for his sharp, honest, principled, and firm debates inside the West Wing. Despite sometimes being a contrarian, he always supported the President's final decisions.



Image Source: White House's Flickr


For instance, on the issue of pulling out military forces from Afghanistan, Biden was pro-withdrawal, while Obama initially walked a fine line. In his presidential term, Biden decided to pursue the withdrawal, despite the chaotic pull-out and the subsequent return of the Taliban. This had problematic implications for women's rights in Afghanistan. However, it aligned with the initial objective to uproot al-Qaeda and allow the country to handle its internal struggles, potentially influenced by regional dynamics, without unnecessary external interference.


Most of Biden's policy choices reflect prudent consideration, principle, and ethics. Regarding the war in Ukraine, Biden opted for a strategy that provides substantial aid and weaponry to assist Ukraine against Russia. This approach aims to contain the conflict without escalating it into a larger regional war, avoiding the potential "economical" approach of letting Ukraine collapse and become a quagmire for Russia, similar to the Cold War era.


In dealing with domestic issues like governmental shutdowns instigated by the radical GOP wing, Biden has chosen to navigate a fine line between the extremes of American politics, rather than invoking unusual mechanisms to continue federal operations.


Regarding the Israel-Hamas conflict, American politics and powerful lobbying often push for staunch support of Israel. While Biden supports Israel, he also attempts to alleviate the situation with humanitarian assistance and peace plans, striving for coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis. This is a challenging stance, especially given Israel’s policies that some compare to the suffering caused during the Nazi era.


Biden’s leadership extends to managing the COVID-19 crisis and implementing semi-Keynesian policies to mitigate the economic fallout post-pandemic and from wartime disruptions, albeit amidst concerns on inflation. His administration's efforts include infrastructure investments and social support programs aimed at economic recovery and stability.



The Dilemma


There is always a reason why fostering qualified leadership takes time. Most critical historical decision-making involves careful political calculus: weighing cost versus benefit, the grand picture versus details, and long-term gain versus short-term benefit. One of the most challenging aspects to quantify is the pragmatic approach, often involving ruthless calibration, versus the novel ideal approach that reflects eternal values and frequently requires sacrifice. Ancient literature like Antigone and Xenophon's Hiero deeply reflects these themes.



Paul Klee's Angelus Novus, source


People tend to judge, often in hindsight and without prudent thinking, whether the decisions made by caliber leaders were correct and rightful. In reality, it is difficult to gauge these decisions in foresight. It often boils down to the quality of a leader's intuition and common sense in the zeitgeist, responding to the unfolding world moment by moment. As described by Paul Klee's Angelus Novus, we are entities cursed to proceed into the future with an unclear path, seeing only the path we have already walked, like driving a car forward while looking only through the rear window.


It is known that President Biden has difficulties due to his aging handicap in elevating his performance, not only recently but over time. However, with his caliber staff and long experience in the Beltway and The Hill, he has crafted some of the most capable public policies among U.S. presidents.


As the decision of whether to continue another presidential term looms, the American public begins to weigh the policy calculus. Political realities often lag behind current phenomena. Recent polls show a neck-and-neck competition between Trump and Biden, with a thin margin leaving little room for error for both candidates. Critical political maneuvers often occur in the final quarter with surprise tactics aimed at catching adversaries off guard. Biden’s early miscalculated move, despite aiming to consolidate the legitimacy of his presidential performance and address aging concerns before both the Democratic convention and the Presidential Election, unexpectedly failed to secure his position and elevate the Democrats in the Senate and House.


As mentioned earlier, we are entities cursed with the difficulty of foreseeing the future. It's hard to predict whether Trump will make erratic moves similar to Biden's and easily correct his missteps from Thursday's debate. Given Trump’s efforts since his loss to Biden, particularly due to the COVID-19 phenomenon that caused discrepancies for many global leaders, he could still mobilize strong support and influence, emerging successfully from the GOP’s Republican Party primaries. This reveals deep structural cracks in American politics that need deconstruction, if not fixing. While Trump’s methods might seem horrid, the mechanisms designed by the Founding Fathers allow American politics to self-calibrate. Biden has played a significant role during his term. Now, it’s time to consider this dilemma carefully, as he spends time with his family at Camp David this weekend to deliberate on this critical issue.



The Decision


President Biden now finds himself at a critical juncture as he prepares for the upcoming presidential election. The stakes are immense, and the decision before him is one that could shape not only his legacy but the future of the nation. The dilemma he faces is twofold: whether to continue his campaign for re-election, leveraging his extensive experience and proven leadership, or to step aside in favor of a fresher voice within the Democratic Party, thereby possibly enhancing the party's chances against a formidable opponent like Donald Trump.



2024 Presidential Poll, FiveThirtyEight, source


Continuing the campaign offers several strengths. Biden's extensive experience in public service provides a stable and reassuring presence during turbulent times. His leadership has been tested and proven over decades, from his tenure in the Senate to his role as Vice President and now as President. Continuing his campaign ensures the continuation of policies and initiatives that his administration has put in place, particularly in areas like economic recovery, healthcare, and international relations. Biden’s commitment to supporting Ukraine against Russian aggression and upholding democratic values on a global scale highlights his dedication to maintaining international order and justice.


However, this path is not without significant challenges. Biden’s age and recent performance have raised questions about his stamina and ability to endure another presidential term. This concern could weaken his campaign and impact voter confidence. Despite his achievements, there is a growing sentiment among some voters that a younger, more dynamic candidate might better energize the electorate and bridge generational divides. Additionally, facing a radicalized GOP, Biden’s administration has struggled with significant opposition, complicating efforts to pass legislation and achieve bipartisan support.


On the other hand, stepping aside for a fresh candidate presents unique opportunities. A new candidate could bring fresh perspectives and vigor, potentially appealing to a broader and younger demographic. This could rejuvenate the Democratic Party and enhance its appeal. By stepping aside, Biden could facilitate a seamless transition to a capable successor, such as Vice President Kamala Harris, who could carry forward his policy legacy while introducing her unique vision. This move could unify the Democratic Party by addressing internal calls for new leadership and demonstrating a commitment to the greater good over personal ambition.


Yet, this choice also carries risks. A new candidate might lack the recognition and voter trust that Biden has built over his long career, which could weaken the party’s position against a well-known opponent like Trump. The process of selecting a new candidate could exacerbate divisions within the Democratic Party, leading to infighting and a fragmented campaign. Furthermore, a shift in leadership might disrupt ongoing policies and initiatives, particularly in critical areas such as foreign policy and economic recovery.


Given the current political landscape and the high stakes of the upcoming election, stepping aside appears to be the more prudent choice for President Biden. This decision reflects a strategic understanding of the need for renewal and the importance of unifying the Democratic Party around a fresh and dynamic candidate. By stepping aside, Biden would demonstrate a profound act of selflessness and dedication to the nation's best interests. It would allow for a new leader to emerge, potentially revitalizing the party and enhancing its chances against a formidable opponent. This choice would also mitigate the risks associated with his age and health, ensuring that the Democratic campaign remains strong and resilient.


Moreover, this move would reinforce Biden’s legacy as a leader who prioritized the greater good over personal ambition. It would mark him as a statesman who understood the importance of adapting to the evolving needs of the nation and stepping aside when necessary to allow for new leadership to flourish. In the robust framework of American constitutionalism, the checks and balances system ensures that no single leader can dominate without accountability. Trusting the American people and their judgment is central to this system. By stepping aside, Biden would reaffirm his faith in the democratic process and the American people's ability to choose a leader who reflects their aspirations and values.

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