Politics

Biden: Enters the 46th U.S. president

After a tortuous ride, Senator Joe Biden will be inaugurated today as the 46th President of the United States (U.S.). WALE ELEGBEDE writes on how the 78-year-old will establish a baseline to manage the expectations on his administration

Former Vice President of the United States (U.S), Joe Biden, is back to public service, this time to the Office of President in the Oval Office. The electoral victory of Joe Biden, 78, over outgoing Donald Trump, makes him the first former vice president to win the Oval Office since George H. W. Bush, who won in 1988 after eight years under Ronald Reagan. However, unlike Bush, Biden spent four years outside of government office before winning the White House.

Bush lost his re-election bid four years later, making him a one-term president, and Biden himself has indicated he may voluntarily serve just a single term, describing himself as a “transition candidate.” Biden is also the oldest person in American history to be inaugurated.

The oldest president to date was the late Reagan, who was 77 when he left office in 1989. On his path to victory, Biden secured 306 electoral votes. It takes 270 electoral votes to win the U.S. presidency. He also amassed 81 million votes, more than any other presidential candidate in American history.

“Well, I must admit it surprised me,” Biden said during his November 7 victory speech, adding: “Tonight, we’ve seen all over this nation, all cities in all parts of the country, indeed across the world, an outpouring of joy, of hope, renewed faith in tomorrow, bring a better day. And I am humbled by the trust and confidence you’ve placed in me.”

With the issues that trailed the outcome of the electioneering process, many Americans are thrilled to be moving on from the Donald Trump era, especially after the raid on the U.S. Capitol by angry Trump supporters. However, today’s inauguration will not be like previous ones as it would be held amidst anxiety over security.

Thus extensive security measures was put in place and the need to avoid large crowds to stem the spread of the coronavirus were given priority. Most Americans will experience the historical ceremony virtually An unprecedented level of security is being marshaled for the 59th swearing-in ceremony as law enforcement is on high alert for further possible attacks and unrest. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has asked public officials to discourage spectators from attending the inauguration in an effort to prevent violence during the event.

Biden, who has already hit the ground running, plans to focus during the early part of his administration on uniting the country and addressing pressing problems such as the COVID-19 pandemic, good-paying jobs, racial injustice and climate change.

“Let us be the nation that we know we can,” Biden said in his victory speech. “A nation united, a nation strengthened. A nation healed. The United States of America, ladies and gentlemen, there’s never, never been anything we’ve tried we’ve not been able to do.”

In announcing his $1.9 trillion economic rescue package last Thursday night, ahead of today’s inauguration, Biden made clear that his quest for bipartisanship will not crimp his policy imagination or his determination to go big to revive the economy.

Biden also made clear that he intends to fend off criticism from Trump-style economic nationalists by stressing his commitment to U.S. manufacturing, to “a future made in America, all made in America and all by Americans.”

Biden was also unapologetic in stressing how much of his program will be directed toward lower-income Americans. He called for a $15 minimum wage, stressed programs to ease hunger and evictions, and embraced a variety of tax credit expansions, made “refundable” so those who pay little or no income tax can collect them. If adopted, he said, his plan “would lift 12 million Americans out of poverty and cut child poverty in half.

That’s five million -children.” The man, Biden Born on November 20, 1942, in Scranton,Pennsylvania, Joe Biden, according to the Senate Historical Office, became the sixth youngest senator in American history, at 30 years, one month, and 14 days,.

Raised in a Catholic family, Biden was the oldest of the four children of his parents; his mother, Jean, had Irish roots. At school Biden was class president, although his grades were unremarkable.

As his father looked to stabilize his work, his family moved to Claymont and then Wilmington, Delaware, when he was young. He attended the University of Delaware, and then law school at Syracuse University, where he met his first wife, Neilia.

They returned to Wilmington and started a family as Biden quickly established himself as a politician, winning a seat on the New Castle County Council, and then, in 1972, launching an improbable run for the U.S. Senate.

Although he hasn’t attained the minimum constitutional required age of 30 to serve as a senator, until after the election, he won in an upset defeating the incumbent Republican against the odds and became the sixth youngest senator in US history. His swift rise in Delaware politics was conspicuous for all to see, then, personal tragedy struck and overshadowed his triumph.

Before his formal entrance to the Senate, he was away setting up his office in Washington DC; a truck drove into the family car, killing his wife, Neilia, and their baby daughter Naomi. His sons, Beau and Hunter were badly injured.

Biden was sworn in as senator from their hospital bedside. The loss prompted Biden to think about quitting; instead, he became a long-distance commuter, travelling from his home in Delaware to DC and back again every day, in order to see his young sons. It was a practice he continued for more than three decades, earning him the nickname Amtrak Joe.

The Delaware senator made his mark in the chamber on the Judiciary and Foreign Relations committees, serving for long stints as chair or ranking member on both. Biden presided over several high-profile and contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearings, including Robert Bork’s failed nomination and the hearings during which Anita Hill accused future Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.

In 1975, Biden’s brother set up a blind date with a woman he’d known from university, Jill Tracy Jacobs. The date went well; two years later Biden married Jill, a teacher, in a Roman Catholic ceremony at a chapel in New York.

In 1981, they had a daughter, Ashley. In 1988 and 2008, Biden ran for president. Both times were considered flops. He withdrew from the 1988 campaign before the Iowa caucuses in part because of a plagiarism scandal.

In 2008, Biden carved out a niche during the debates as a foreign policy expert but finished well behind fellow Obama and Hillary Clinton in Iowa, and quickly dropped out. Biden was reelected to the Senate six times, and was the fourth-most senior senator when he resigned to serve as Barack Obama’s vice president after they won the 2008 presidential election. Biden headed several key policy efforts for the Obama administration, including the 2009 stimulus package that’s credited with helping pull the economy out of a spiral toward a depression.

Biden helped set the administration’s foreign policy agenda In 2015, tragedy struck his family one more time as his son Beau, who had risen to become Delaware’s attorney general, died of brain cancer. That and other issues sealed his decision not to run in 2016.

His decision to throw his hat to the ring in April 2019 didn’t also receive a rousing welcome as there were already some 20 other Democrats in the field. But his sound antecedent, strong name and simple message of restoration, unity, hope and character, clearly positioned him as the clear front-runner in the crowded primary. He scored huge victories on Super Tuesday, defeating his closest rival Bennie Sanders in a two-man race between Biden and Sanders.

At 77, Biden becomes the oldest man ever elected president. (He’ll be 78 by Inauguration Day.) He’s also the first former vice president to win the White House since George H.W. Bush in 1988; the second Roman Catholic in U.S. history elected president; and he’ll be the first president to call Delaware home. And with his victory, his running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will become the first female vice president.

She’ll also become the nation’s second Black candidate, following former President Barack Obama, to serve as president or vice president. Biden’s win of the battleground state of Pennsylvania’s 20 Electoral votes gave him more than the 270 he needed, ending four days of nail-biting suspense in a deeply divided country as angry pro-Trump demonstrators gathered outside Biden won more votes than any presidential candidate in American history, shattering Barack Obama’s record. The president-elect in some of his first words after being called the winner: more of that message.

“America, I’m honored that you have chosen me to lead our great county,” Biden tweeted, with his profile changed to President- elect. “The work ahead of us will be hard, but I promise you this: I will be a President for all Americans — whether you voted for me or not.” For Biden, a career politician, this victory is a political comeback for an old soldier stepping into one final battle. How he will manage an already divided America as he takes oath of office today, is left to be seen.

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