If the coronavirus crisis has shown us anything else, it’s that the issue of ageism and a lack of deep down concern for the elderly in broader society really is a problem. The numbers of people in various Western nations dismissing the pandemic on the dubious proposition that it poses the greatest risk to senior citizens – the “too bad” category as the Svengali of UK government, Dominic Cummings, might put it – and not the relatively young illustrates the selfish, short-term mind-set that seems to effect far too many men and women. Once you take away “sexy” tentpole issues like tackling catastrophic climate change or equal marriage rights and so on, a lot of the bread-and-butter politics that used to form the core tenets of the political Left seem to have shallow support at best among the more youthful sections of society. Even in this country, where older people fare far better in terms of public regard than many others, there has been a certain nonchalance in some quarters about the challenges that a significant proportion of our population will face in the coming weeks and months. And is facing right now. Thankfully attitudes are beginning to change and there seems to be a greater willingness by communities to “police” themselves through the individual and collective shaming of those flaunting the restrictions requested by the Government and HSE.
I say all this just to contextualise my views on the problem of the Joe Biden candidacy in the United States. While I am very wary of those who have taken to offering some type of pop-analysis of his cognitive health there does seem to be an issue there. One that his own campaign has recognised and is doing its best to hide. Though even that has been marked by the odd mix of incompetence and arrogance that has been the chief characteristic of his backroom team since the start of his bid to be the presidential nominee for the Democratic Party. None of this helps with Biden’s already shaky image as a figurehead establishment candidate, the status quo frontman who will return the US to the ante-Trump era of Beltway politics. Which is a shaky proposition at best given the decades-long degradation of the GOP through the influence of paleoconservatives, neoconservatives, the Tea Partyists, the Birthers, the Trumpists and alt-rightists. However much some in Washington and the American news media may wish it otherwise, the mythical golden age of Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill is long gone and unlikely to return.
Joe Biden was the logical candidate for the Democrats in 2016, if Bernie Sanders proved too radical an option. That was his moment to shine. Unfortunately a combination of personal concerns and the machinations of the Hillary Clinton campaign ensured that the Delaware senator jumped before he was pushed, and the former Secretary of State was given “her turn” to be president. And we all know how that turned out.