A Different Kind of Future
Richard Nixon had a run at it in 1960, George H. W. Bush succeeded in 1988, and of course, it fell through Al Gore’s fingertips in 2000. The vice presidency is a tricky animal.
Despite many vice presidents who went on to have transformative presidencies like Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Lyndon B. Johnson, only Martin Van Buren and George H. W. Bush have been elected president after the president with whom they shared a ticket completed his terms in office.
With the inauguration now behind us, many have speculated that Vice President Joe Biden will run for president in his own right in 2016.
Joe Biden knows the Senate thoroughly, has great experience in foreign relations, has championed legislation like the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and is a hero to blue-collar America with a captivating personal narrative.
Conventional wisdom says that if Vice President Biden wants the Democratic nomination in four years, it is his for the taking.
The problem, however, is that Biden is currently seventy years old and should not, by any means, be at the top of the ticket in four years.
The same argument applies to Hillary Clinton. At 65, she too is simply too old to be president.
She has had a wonderful career in politics as First Lady, Senator from New York, and especially so as Secretary of State. She enjoys immense popularity at the moment and James Carville even claimed early last month that 90% of Democrats want her to run. Although a certain front-runner, she is not the best person for the job—the country requires bold, new leadership, not old party bosses.
In 1992, the presidency irrevocably shifted away from the GI Generation to the Baby Boomers and again in 2008, it shifted to Barack Obama who, as the fifth-youngest president in the nation’s history, was born in the gray area between the Baby Boomers and Generation X.
The next administration or two or three will require fresh, ground breaking programs like President Obama’s Race to the Top initiative.
This is not to disqualify either politician exclusively because of their age, but rather a call to new policies geared toward a new era and this is not something Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton can deliver. There is not a shortage of young talent in either party and most of the nominees in four years will be from Generation X. It is essential to continue bringing new ideas forward and this is necessary of both political parties.
In last week’s Inaugural Address, President Obama consistently urged Americans to respond to the new challenges that the country faces and the election of either Biden or Clinton would be a disservice to such a call.
Their moments have passed and in four years, the country will need to continue with younger leadership.
During the next four years, President Obama is sure to take up gun control, immigration reform, and perhaps climate change legislation.
But there will be plenty of work left in order to make the United States more competitive in the global economy and rejuvenate its leadership among emerging countries like China, Brazil, and Singapore.
In the long term during the next several administrations, American leadership will require legislation to reestablish the American public education system as the best in the world, regain the status as the country with the most college graduates, train workers for higher-skilled manufacturing jobs, and help lead in innovation, entrepreneurship and research.
As President Obama said in his Inaugural Address: “For now decisions are upon us and we cannot afford delay.”
Speculating as to who will or will not run or which party will be in power in four years is a senseless pursuit and what matters more is what will be accomplished in the coming years rather than who will be sworn in.
With many demanding issues during our time, it is easy to focus solely on those that are the most impending. Americans, however, must constantly evaluate the long-term interests of the country and take the necessary steps to keep the nation striving toward its potential.
Ross Fogg is a College junior from Fayetteville, Ga.