It’s Not About Biden’s Age. It’s About Race And Gender

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris during a campaign event at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas, Virginia, Tuesday, January 23, 2024. (Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images) Credit: The Washington Post via Getty Images

by Chris B. Bennett

It’s election season, and we’re hearing more talk and chatter about the age of Joe Biden and how it could impact his ability to lead the country.

Yes, Joe Biden is 81. However, we need to ask ourselves why there is a narrative around his age, which started before he was elected during the last presidential election cycle. Many of us have people in our own families — who are just as old, if not older, than Joe Biden — who are in great shape, and in some cases may outlive many of us, and from a cognitive standpoint, are as sharp as tack.

When it comes to representation and leadership, currently, three U.S. senators are older than Joe Biden: Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who will turn 82 on Feb. 20; Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who will turn 83 in September; and the oldest member of the Senate, Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who will turn 91 in September.

In addition, there are currently eight members of Congress who are older than Biden: Danny K. Davis, 82; Jim Clyburn, 83; Nancy Pelosi, 83; Steny Hoyer, 84; Maxine Waters, 85; Hal Rogers, 85; Bill Pascrell, 86; and Grace Napolitano, 86. Eleven people in total are older than Joe Biden. Yet, we don’t see the mainstream media and political talking heads questioning their age, their ability to make decisions, lead the country, or their knowledge of domestic and international politics.

What is behind the buzz about Joe Biden’s age? Kamala Harris.

While most of them are not constantly in the public eye, I can assure you that many walk just as slowly, if not slower, and more gingerly than Joe Biden. What would they say about Mitch McConnell if they had to watch him side-waddle from Air Force One to the White House? Republicans would probably have you believe that his walking posture, in some way, is a precautionary form of physical therapy to help maintain his posture, flexibility, and agility.

So what is behind the buzz about Joe Biden’s age? Kamala Harris.

The righteous people in this country do not want to see a woman, especially a Black woman, as the face of freedom and democracy for the United States. As second in command, Kamala Harris would take over the duties of the presidency if something happened to Joe Biden while in office.

When we look at Nikki Haley, people wonder why she is still in the race to be the Republican nominee, even though she has no chance of winning. She is still in the race because she’s not running against Donald Trump. She’s in the race to strike fear in the hearts of Americans who cannot stomach the thought of a Black woman running the country that their forefathers so valiantly protected from being a place that they could not solely control.

Why is Nikki Haley talking about Kamala Harris on the campaign trail? Because she and the Republican establishment are trying to make race an issue, while Donald Trump tries to sway as many Black folks and other ethnic groups to support him as the “best candidate to support their interest.”

What is also interesting to me is that people will try to cast Barack Obama as the worst president that we’ve had — while also trying to make a case for Donald Trump being the best. Again, this is an attempt to say that a Black man was not up to the task, and the Make America Great Again candidate is the best thing for America since Jim Crow.

This race is not about age. It’s about gender and race.

While I won’t debate who was better and who was worse, I will ask you to take a deep look at the economy and the quality of life based on the last six presidencies:

  • George H.W. Bush: bad economy, country at war 
  • Bill Clinton: great economy, country no longer at war 
  • George W. Bush: bad economy, country at war 
  • Barack Obama: saved the economy from disaster and ended his term with a great and growing economy, took out Osama bin Laden 
  • Donald Trump: inherited a great economy and ruined it, and created an environment of racial tension in America not seen since the Jim Crow era
  • Joe Biden: saved the economy from disaster, and successfully navigated the country through COVID-19

While I’m not a person who gets caught up in party labels, I am a person who looks at history, and what history will tell us is that we have to get away from scare tactics and inaccuracies when it comes to voting. History will tell us that race and politics have always been a bad combination for America, especially Black America. 

This race is not about age. It’s about gender and race. After all, Donald Trump, who will be 78 in June, is the same age as Joe Biden during the last presidential election, and no one is talking about his age the way they were and are about Joe Biden. But I suspect it would quickly become an issue if he chose Tim Scott of South Carolina as his running mate.

Look at the big-ticket domestic political items targeted by Donald Trump and the Republicans — Affirmative Action, DEI, and a woman’s right to choose. The reality is that these are the tips of the iceberg as they relate to their political agenda, and they are eager to regain the momentum for their agenda that they enjoyed while Trump was in office. 

Knowing that the goal of winning the presidential election is based on raising the hairs of bias, racism, and sexism on the back of the necks of those who wish to “take back” our country is a sign we all need to pay close attention to.

Vote based on who you believe best represents your interest, not on who you believe will serve out the full term or not. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, not even for the president of the United States — no matter who they are.

Chris B. Bennett is CEO and Publisher of The Seattle Medium Newspaper Group and a founding member of Word In Black.