US polls 2020: Long path ahead for Democratic Party's Joe Biden to a potentially crucial presidency

As a white man, Biden cannot know personally the systemic racism now at the forefront of a national reckoning over centuries-old social and economic inequities.
Democratic presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden (Photo| AP)
Democratic presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden (Photo| AP)

WASHINGTON: When Joe Biden steps to the podium Thursday night as the Democratic Party's presidential nominee, he will offer himself to a wounded, meandering nation as balm and as a bridge.

A 77-year-old steeped in the American political establishment for a half-century, Biden cannot himself embody the kind of generational change that Presidents John F Kennedy or Bill Clinton represented.

Even with wide-ranging proposals for government action on health care, taxation and the climate crisis, he will never be the face of a burgeoning progressive movement.

As a white man, Biden cannot know personally the systemic racism now at the forefront of a national reckoning over centuries-old social and economic inequities.

But the former vice president, six-term senator and twice failed presidential candidate draws plenty on lived experience - two generations spent on each end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a record that mixes partisan street-fighting with bipartisan deal-making and bonhomie, and a personal journey of middle-class mores, individual struggle and family heartbreak.

That is how he is presenting himself as the person to lead the country beyond the tumultuous tenure of President Donald Trump.

"There's great seriousness of purpose here," said Valerie Biden Owens, the candidate's younger sister and, until his current White House bid, perennial campaign manager.

"We are in a time of struggle. We are in a time a grief," she continued, nodding to the novel coronavirus, its economic fallout and the reckoning on race.

"All of this has come together. My brother appreciates it. He can feel it."

The electorate ultimately will decide whether Biden in fact offers a bridge back to a pre-Trump version of normal, a path forward to a more equitable society or some combination.

Voters' most immediate consideration, though, may be that he is not the incumbent.

"Everything that Donald Trump is, my brother is the polar opposite. I don't have to make him bigger than he is," said sister Val.

"Joe's the right person at the right time for all the right reasons."

Biden has used his convention to showcase what his campaign hopes will be a winning coalition.

Prime-time hours have been generously sprinkled with Republicans.

A video highlighted Biden's personal friendship with the late Sen John McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee.

Former Ohio Gov John Kasich endorsed Biden and assured anti-Trump Republicans that he had no worries Biden might make a "sharp left turn" in office.

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