Politics

How Joe Biden Became America’s 46th President

How Joe Biden Became America’s 46th President: A Journey of Triumph and Tragedy

Joe Biden is no stranger to adversity. He has faced personal tragedies, political setbacks, and health challenges throughout his life. But he has also shown remarkable resilience, compassion, and leadership in his long and distinguished career as a public servant. In this article, we will explore how Joe Biden became America’s 46th president, and what his presidency means for the future of the country and the world.

Early Life and Education

Joe Biden was born on November 20, 1942, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to Joseph Robinette Biden Sr. and Catherine Eugenia “Jean” Biden. He was the eldest of four children in a Catholic family of Irish descent. His father was a car salesman who struggled with alcoholism and financial difficulties, while his mother was a homemaker who instilled in her son a sense of dignity and respect for others.

Biden grew up in a modest house in Scranton, where he attended St. Paul’s Elementary School and St. Helena’s School. He was a bright but restless student who suffered from a stutter that made him a target of bullying. He learned to overcome his speech impediment by practicing in front of a mirror and reciting poetry. He also developed a passion for sports, especially football and baseball.

When Biden was 10 years old, his family moved to Claymont, Delaware, in search of better opportunities. He continued his education at Archmere Academy, a prestigious Catholic prep school, where he excelled academically and athletically. He graduated in 1961 with honors and was elected class president.

Biden then enrolled at the University of Delaware, where he studied history and political science. He was active in student government and joined the Sigma Chi fraternity. He also met his future wife, Neilia Hunter, a fellow student from New York. They married in 1966, after Biden graduated with a bachelor’s degree.

Biden decided to pursue a career in law and enrolled at Syracuse University College of Law. He struggled with the academic workload and was accused of plagiarism in his first year, which he attributed to a misunderstanding of citation rules. He later admitted that he had made a mistake and apologized for it. He graduated with a Juris Doctor degree in 1968.

Early Political Career

Biden’s interest in politics was sparked by the civil rights movement and the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. He admired Kennedy’s charisma and vision, and aspired to follow his footsteps. He became involved in local Democratic politics and worked as a public defender and a lawyer at a private firm.

In 1970, at the age of 27, Biden ran for a seat on the New Castle County Council and won by a narrow margin. He served for two years and focused on issues such as environmental protection, land use planning, and public housing.

In 1972, Biden decided to challenge the incumbent Republican senator J. Caleb Boggs, who was widely popular and had the support of President Richard Nixon. Biden ran a grassroots campaign with little money and staff, relying on his charisma and energy to connect with voters. He also benefited from the anti-war sentiment and the Watergate scandal that tarnished Nixon’s reputation.

Biden pulled off an upset victory by less than 3,000 votes, becoming one of the youngest senators ever elected at the age of 29. However, his joy was soon shattered by a devastating tragedy: on December 18, 1972, just weeks after the election, his wife Neilia and their one-year-old daughter Naomi were killed in a car accident while shopping for Christmas gifts. Their two sons, Beau and Hunter, were seriously injured but survived.

Biden was heartbroken by the loss of his family and considered resigning from his Senate seat. He was persuaded by his colleagues and friends to stay on and fulfill his duty to the people who elected him. He took the oath of office at the hospital bedside of his sons on January 5, 1973.

Biden faced another challenge: balancing his senatorial responsibilities with raising his two young sons as a single father. He commuted daily by train from Wilmington to Washington D.C., spending four hours each day traveling back and forth. He also hired a nanny and relied on his sister Valerie and his parents for help. He later said that his sons gave him a reason to live and work.

Biden also found love again: in 1975, he met Jill Jacobs, a teacher and divorcee, on a blind date arranged by his brother. They dated for two years and married in 1977. They had a daughter, Ashley, in 1981.

Senate Career

Biden served in the Senate for 36 years, from 1973 to 2009. He was a member of several committees, including the Foreign Relations Committee, the Judiciary Committee, and the International Narcotics Control Caucus. He was also the chair or ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee and the Judiciary Committee at different times.

Biden was known for his expertise in foreign policy, national security, criminal justice, civil rights, and constitutional law. He was also known for his bipartisanship, pragmatism, and willingness to compromise. He forged friendships and alliances with senators from both parties, such as John McCain, Ted Kennedy, Lindsey Graham, and Chuck Hagel.

Some of Biden’s notable achievements and positions in the Senate include:

  • Drafting and leading the passage of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which authorized federal funding for 100,000 police officers, banned assault weapons, expanded the death penalty, and created the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which provided resources and protection for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
  • Drafting and leading the passage of the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2000 and 2005, which expanded VAWA’s scope and funding to cover more groups of victims, such as immigrants, Native Americans, and LGBTQ+ people.
  • Overseeing six Supreme Court confirmation hearings as the chair or ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, including the contentious hearings for Robert Bork in 1987 and Clarence Thomas in 1991. Biden opposed Bork’s nomination on the grounds of his conservative judicial philosophy and supported Anita Hill’s sexual harassment allegations against Thomas.
  • Supporting the expansion of NATO and the European Union to include former communist countries in Eastern Europe after the end of the Cold War. Biden also advocated for U.S. military intervention in the Balkans to stop the ethnic cleansing and genocide during the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s.
  • Opposing the Gulf War in 1991 on the basis that it lacked congressional authorization and international legitimacy. Biden also criticized President George H.W. Bush for not pursuing a more aggressive policy to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.
  • Voting for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution in 2002, which gave President George W. Bush the authority to invade Iraq based on faulty intelligence that claimed Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Biden later regretted his vote and became a vocal critic of Bush’s handling of the Iraq War. He proposed a plan to partition Iraq into three autonomous regions based on ethnic and sectarian lines to reduce violence and promote stability.
  • Opposing President Bush’s surge of U.S. troops in Iraq in 2007, arguing that it would not achieve its intended goals and would only prolong the war. Biden also supported setting a timetable for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq.
  • Supporting President Obama’s decision to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan in 2009, but also advocating for a narrower counterterrorism mission rather than a counterinsurgency strategy. Biden also favored a faster withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan than Obama initially proposed.

Presidential Campaign and Victory

Biden announced his candidacy for the 2020 presidential election on April 25, 2019. He framed his campaign as a battle for the soul of America, and positioned himself as a moderate who could appeal to a broad coalition of voters. He also emphasized his experience, integrity, and empathy as contrasted with Donald Trump’s divisiveness, dishonesty, and cruelty.

Biden faced a crowded and diverse field of Democratic rivals, including senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar; former mayor Pete Buttigieg; former congressman Beto O’Rourke; former governor John Hickenlooper; former HUD secretary Julian Castro; entrepreneur Andrew Yang; author Marianne Williamson; and billionaire Tom Steyer.

Biden struggled in the early stages of the primaries, placing fourth in Iowa, fifth in New Hampshire, and second in Nevada. He was criticized for his age, his gaffes, his record on racial issues, and his lack of progressive policies. However, he bounced back with a decisive win in South Carolina, thanks to the overwhelming support of African American voters. He then swept through Super Tuesday, winning 10 out of 14 states and taking the lead in delegates.

Biden consolidated his position as the frontrunner after most of his rivals dropped out and endorsed him. He secured the nomination after Sanders suspended his campaign on April 8, 2020. Biden then chose Harris as his running mate on August 11, 2020, making her the first woman of color on a major party ticket.

Biden faced Trump in a general election that was dominated by the coronavirus pandemic , which had killed more than 400,000 Americans and devastated the economy. Biden criticized Trump’s mishandling of the crisis and offered a plan to contain the virus and provide relief to Americans. He also campaigned on restoring America’s leadership in the world, addressing climate change, expanding health care , reforming immigration, promoting racial justice, and rebuilding the middle class.

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