Biden and Sanders 2020: Is Experience Really Everything?

Maggie Connolly ’21

Opinions Editor

Interestingly enough, this year there are more familiar names than just the incumbent president on the ballot for 2020. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have both officially declared their candidacy for the Democratic primaries, Sanders falling short in the primaries in the 2016 election and Joe Biden a White House veteran, serving as Obama’s vice president for both terms of his presidency.

On the surface level, Biden gained immense amounts of popularity during the end of his time as vice president because of his friendship with Obama by the end of eight years serving together. He is also known for his boisterous personality, sometimes making for hilarious Twitter posts and others becoming quite controversial. Likewise, Sanders gained popularity from the “Bernie or Bust” squad that followed his campaign almost religiously in the 2016 election. This demographic was composed mostly of individuals who were college-age or slightly older. Although Sanders could not clinch the nomination, he became much more famous than he was as simply a senator from Vermont.

As of April 24, according to RealClearPolitics, Biden was leading the polls, with Sanders close behind. This early on in the process, it is hard to tell who will be successful and what is based off of name recognition and popularity, but the thought of an old name in a new position is unsettling for a multitude of reasons.

Although it is my personal belief that Sanders and Biden individually have interesting, relevant views on certain issues, it is less their policy and more their presence that is troubling in the current political climate. For starters, both of them are strictly 70-something, white, straight males. They can each have great ideas for the country in theory, but America is in desperate need of something new. We need someone with a different story to lead our country in order to understand what even a small portion of the marginalized communities in this nation experience. Biden and Joe are not the something new that Americans need at this juncture. After four years of Trump-centered politics, Americans need someone to juxtapose this on more levels than just policy in order to progress as a country.

Likewise, although clearly incredibly experienced, these two men could take a lesson or two from Hillary’s campaign in 2016. One of the main objections to Clinton was the fact that she was not a fresh face in politics. She, like Biden, was a White House vet, although not an elected one. In this case, taking a page from Clinton’s book might not be the most successful way for the Democratic Party to win the presidency.

According to the New York Times, a study in Iowa proved that Trump may not be the GOP candidate to beat in 2020 after all. Although he remains steadily the favorite, a lot could happen in the next year that could produce and promote a more qualified, more GOP-centric candidate. Out of the registered republicans in Iowa, 63 percent believe the GOP should welcome new republican candidates. Although this is only one state, it represents a potential problem with Biden’s argument specifically that he is the most qualified person to run against Trump because he is a two-term vice president.

The big takeaway from these two men’s candidacy is simply they are not what the United States needs in its current state. Politics needs a new face, someone who has experience, but experience outside of the White House or even Washington D.C. proper. Politics is about experience and qualification, but it is also about meaningful discussion, inclusion, and accurate representation. To achieve all of this and more in 2020, the Democratic Party is in need of a fresh face to prevail over Trump, or any other member of the Republican Party who succeeds in receiving the nomination.

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