Joe Biden has called himself a “transitional” candidate, suggesting President John F. Kennedy’s famous words from his inaugural address:
Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans…
If Joe Biden truly is a transitional candidate, then he’s playing Eisenhower to Kamala Harris’ Kennedy. Not a bad spot to be in. Despite Biden’s past involvement with segregationists, selecting Harris as his running mate could secure a second place in history for the 77-year-old former Vice President to America’s first President of color.
Just how would a generational transition come about in this case?
Most Presidents of the modern era have sought re-election. Should Biden win, should he serve two terms, and should Kamala Harris remain his VP, there is the strong possibility that she would use her service to springboard into the Oval Office. However, that’s not the only way Biden could facilitate a transition to a Harris Presidency.
The worst-case scenario―and let’s get this one out of the way―would be Biden dying in office, automatically ushering Harris into power. The implications of a President dying in office are tremendous and most often troublesome.
But what if Biden chose to only serve one term? What if that is in the back of his mind anyway? After all, Biden’s been in government for a long, long time, and he’s suffered major personal losses. Following the deaths of his first wife and their daughter in 1972 and the death of his grown son, Beau, in 2015, who could blame him for leaving the public arena? Is it possible that Biden sees as his mission the dethroning of Donald Trump and the passing of the torch to Harris?
Biden could also serve one, two, or three years, then resign. While that is a possibility, it is unlikely. Some would say that a Harris Presidency gained that way would be a hollow victory. That is opinion, however, and we all know about opinions. Hollow or not, a win is a win and Harris will have earned her right to ascend to the nation’s highest office through an election, unlike Gerald Ford who followed Spiro Agnew into the Vice Presidency then took the reigns of power after Richard Nixon’s resignation. In the end, Harris would still be the first female President and the first female President of color to boot.
If 2016 taught us anything politically it would be that the very last word in a Presidential election can be “Surprise!” We’re watching history in the making, folks―BIG, BIG history. Are we witnessing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s arc of the moral universe bending toward justice? Keep your eyes on the prize and hold on!
Singer-songwriter, columnist, psychotherapist, spiritual advisor. Lives in Oxford, MS, the home of many best-selling authors including, most notably, Nobel Laureate William Faulkner.