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That a current president, even at the age of 80, would commit to seeking another four-year term, seems like a foregone conclusion today.
This is true despite the potential loss of Democrats to the House and perhaps the Senate in the coming midterm elections.
Despite inflation, it is true that the US economy is souring.
Despite the toll, it is true that another election cycle will befall his family. Joe Biden’s son Hunter is a frequent target of political opponents of the president.
Many Democratic voters are disappointed with Biden’s performance, and a surprising number — 64% of Democratic voters in a recent New York Times/Siena College poll – Would like to see a different candidate in 2024.
But it’s not exactly the same as other Democrats step up to challenge him So far.
While it seems almost unthinkable that a president today would bow down after one term, this is not always the case. I spoke to Presidential historian and LBJ Foundation CEO Mark Updegrove about presidents and re-elections.
Our conversation, moderated by email and lightly edited, is below.
What matters: The president almost always runs for a second term. Why?
Update: You don’t run for president unless you are exceptionally competitive and have a healthy ego. to be re-elected Usually part of the overall offer. The second term provides another chance to win at the highest level.
Plus, you don’t run for president unless you’re ambitious. Four years is relatively fleeting. a president can make a big mark on the nation and History in eight years.
What matters: Biden is coming under some notable pressure from fellow Democrats to consider not running for re-election. Will it be enough for him to consider getting out?
Update: No, it’s up to him to decide. Biden won the presidency and earned the right to determine for himself whether he runs for a second term.
What matters: The most recent exception to the run-for-election rule was Lyndon B. Johnson is. Are there any parallels between what LBJ announced he would no longer be a presidential candidate in 1968 and what Biden now faces?
Update: Yes. There is a misconception that LBJ chose not to run again because of the growing dispute and division over the war in Vietnam. He may have been a part of it, but his main concern was his health.
He had a near-fatal heart attack in 1955, and there was a history of fatal heart disease in his family. The kind of crisis we went through with the sudden death of FDR in 1945 and the stroke of Woodrow Wilson in 1919, he didn’t want to plunge the country into the kind of crisis that left him incapacitated.
As he considers running again, Biden must make the same calculations. The average life expectancy of an American male is 79. Biden will be 86 at the end of his second term.
And even if he lived a full two-term presidency, would he have the physical and mental stamina to deal with the inherent stress of the office?
What matters: Other examples include Harry Truman, Calvin Coolidge and Teddy Roosevelt. They all, like LBJ, formed part of the term of a president who died in office and then won on his own. Will Biden essentially be the first one-term president if he decides to just leave it at that?
Update: No, in the 1800s, James Polk, James Buchanan and Rutherford Hayes declined to run for a second term.
But given the extraordinary circumstances under which he took office, Biden could justify a term. He snatched the presidency from Donald Trump as perhaps the only Democrat who could return the country to more normalcy. This could be enough. by the same token, Trump may still be a threat,
What matters: With the exception of Trump, who is roughly Biden’s age, the recent presidency was fairly young at the time of his resignation, lived a productive post-presidency life and lived into his 90s. What could Biden achieve after the presidency?
Update: Given their advanced age, they would not have the runway that our most recent former presidents had.
As with all living former presidents except Trump, he will likely spend the first few years writing his memoirs and determining the plans for his presidential library.
Later on, he’ll be in his mid-80s, so we won’t see the kind of activist post-presidency that we’ve seen from (Jimmy). Carter, (Bill) Clinton and (Barack) Obama.
What matters: CNN John Harwood cleverly writes that Biden’s Age Isn’t His Problem, But this is exactly what his political opponents have done in their attacks on him. Has age ever played such a big role in the presidency?
Update: There was much concern that Ronald Reagan was too old for the presidency when he ran for re-election in 1984 at the age of 73. He dropped it during a debate with Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale, “I’m not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”
But Reagan lost momentum in his second term, and we now know he suffered from the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.