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Joe Biden vs. Ronald Reagan: Different Politics But Similar Journeys

by Shane Thomas

 

 

After two unsuccessful attempts at the White House, and eight years as former President Barack Obama’s (left) Veep, President Joe Biden (right) finally won the White House on his third attempt in 2020. 

 

 

The 2020 presidential election might go down as one of the most contentious and unique in United States history.


Some might say that the election has not ended because of the big lie spread by former President Donald Trump that widespread voter fraud led to his defeat.


In fact, another “audit” is currently taking place in Arizona, conducted by the Cyber Ninjas who have in the past spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.


Many conservatives doubt the election of President Joe Biden because many did not take him seriously leading up to the 2020 election.


Many thought his presidential ambitions had ended after failing to win the Democratic nomination in two other attempts.


Many still think that Biden’s age, 78, will prevent him from adequately doing the job.


However, many detractors had the same criticism of former President Ronald Reagan before he won the 1980 Republican presidential nomination, which led to him defeating incumbent President Jimmy Carter.


And not only did President Reagan win election in 1980, but he also went on to blow out his Democratic opponent in 1984, former Vice President Walter Mondale.


Now, many see Reagan as a beacon of conservatism whom other Republicans aspire to emulate decades after he left the White House.


Could President Biden follow in his footsteps in a more liberal way?


In the book “Camelot’s End: Kennedy Vs. Carter and the Fight That Broke the Democratic Party,” Jon Ward wrote, “Reagan may have been advanced in years at the age of sixty-nine, but he was a folksy, optimistic charmer of a man…Reagan had challenged the incumbent president within his own party, Gerald Ford, and the fight had gone all the way to the convention. Reagan narrowly lost, and his political career was declared over. [The 1976 Republican primary] had been his second failed attempt to win the nomination…


“Carter was ‘pleased’ when Reagan became the nominee. He and his staff had feared Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee as the most formidable Republican. ‘At the time, all my political team believed that [Reagan] was the weakest candidate the Republicans could have chosen,’ he wrote. Carter recognized Reagan’s speaking ability but was contemptuous of it. ‘He has his memorized tapes. He pushes a button, and they come out,’ he wrote in his diary. He would later call Reagan ‘both dumb and incompetent.”


Like Reagan, Biden ran for president two times before he broke through on his third attempt at the Oval Office.


His 1988 presidential bid ended in 1987 after a speech plagiarism scandal.


Furthermore, he lost in the 2008 Democratic Party primary.


Former President Barack Obama won the 2008 Democratic primary and chose Biden as his eventual vice president.


And although many Republicans, and Democrats for that matter, thought that Biden was a subpar candidate, he proved them all wrong by defeating the incumbent Trump by over seven million votes.


During the 1980 election, Carter believed that Reagan was a weak and dumb candidate.


In 2020, Trump called Biden the worst candidate.


At a campaign rally, Trump said, “This is the craziest race—I am running against the worst candidate in the history of presidential politics and if I lose, it is more pressure. I wish he was good, I would have less pressure. How do you lose to a guy like that?”


Trump went on to say he “was leading everywhere where people are intelligent.”


Last year, many critics believed that Biden benefitted from staying in his house during the pandemic and only reading from teleprompters during his online addresses to the nation.


Over the years, Biden became known for gaffes on the campaign trail, saying the wrong things at the wrong times, which curtailed some of his dreams and ambitions.


But Carter also criticized Reagan for memorizing his speeches and not actually being the great communicator that many of his fans thought he was.


Despite the similarity in their stories, the liberal-leaning Biden and the conservative Reagan have their differences when it comes to policy.


While Reagan championed limited government believing that Americans (on the left and right) were sick and tired of the government, Biden’s policies seek a return of big government.


Lisa Lerer of the New York Times wrote, “With Mr. Biden’s early agenda, his administration is making what amounts to a $6 trillion bet that dueling crises of the coronavirus pandemic and the economic downturn, paired with the political upheaval of the Trump era, have rekindled the romance between Americans and their government.


“Through his Covid relief bill and infrastructure proposals, Mr. Biden is striving to prove that government can craft policies that tangibly improve your daily lives, delivering benefits like improved roads, more education, better Internet, paid time off to care for a sick family member, and help supporting older parents.


“White House aides say that Mr. Biden also sees government as the solution for a more abstract kind of problem: a deeply polarized country that might be unified around a national response to a series of crises involving climate change, racial justice, public health and the economy. The administration is hardly hiding its effort—Mr. Biden has self-consciously cloaked himself in the legacy of Franklin D. Roosevelt, an attempt to hark back to earlier age of liberalism when government pulled the country out of despair.”


So, while Reagan and Biden come from different ends of the political spectrum, their journeys to the White House do not differ that much.


Reagan ushered in a new form of conservatism that dominated White House politics for 12 years, which included his Vice President George H.W. Bush winning the White House in 1988.


Will the same thing happen for Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and liberalism?


Time will tell.

This article was published on Friday 21 May, 2021.
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