Former Vice President Joe Biden is something of an enigma. After deciding not run in 2016, Biden still chose to remain a public face of the Democratic party. Today Biden walks like a candidate, talks like a candidate, and rumors abound about his potential as a candidate in 2020.
Recent news may shed some light on why Biden bowed out in 2016.
Donna Brazile, former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, revealed earlier this week that Hillary Clinton had taken de facto leadership of the DNC a year before her official nomination, effectively eliminating all competition. Whether or not Biden still has political aspirations is yet to be seen, but he remains an important voice for the Democratic party, which is still recovering from the 2016 election. While many still wonder what's next for Biden, he seems to be focused on what's next for the country, especially under the leadership of President Donald Trump.
In a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs this week, Biden said:
Today I worry we’re walking down a very dark path, [a] path that isolates the United States on the world stage, endangers the American people and, with other international events taking place that are tearing at the fabric of a liberal world order, it’s even more dangerous.
There’s a lot of people out there scared to death with good reason. They come from my old neighborhood. They’re not stupid. They have real fears.
These people aren’t prejudiced. They’re realistic. And then they become the targets for charlatans. Look what happens. Like most charlatans throughout time, you see them aggrandize themselves and consolidate their power by blaming the ‘other.’
This guy said what many of us were thinking:
In a country severely polarized by its last election, Biden sees a clear line between the white nationalist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the underlying principles of Trump's foreign policy, which he characterizes as "beyond ideological incoherence." Trump approaches foreign policy like a “dog-eat-dog competition, a Hobbesian world in which for Americans to succeed, others must lose or fail.”
Domestically, Biden sees that kind of divisiveness manifesting in Trump's "obscene" response to employment and immigration issues, reacting to it by saying “Hunker down, shut the gates, build walls.” Internationally, it translates to pulling out of deals like the Paris climate accord, NATO, and the Iran nuclear deal, moves that endanger future Presidents' ability to negotiate international agreements.
In an October interview with CBS, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif echoed this concern:
Nobody else will trust any U.S. administration to engage in any long-term negotiation because the length of any commitment, the duration of any commitment from now on with any U.S. administration would be the reminder of the term of that president.
Biden also talked about the dangerous game Trump is playing with North Korea:
Big nations can’t bluff. What the president doesn’t realize, drawing all of these red lines with regard to North Korea and then not following up diminishes our power around the world. He sends out signals that are dangerous.
How many of you now, whether you voted for him or not, are beginning to wonder if the roots, the invisible moral fabric that holds everything up, is eroding in a way that’s dangerous for democratic institutions? If we don’t stand up, the liberal world order we championed will quickly become an illiberal world order we suffer.
I’m not pessimistic about the fate of the world. Just get up. Get up. Look at who the hell we are. The American public has never fallen short.
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