An overlook of the pivotal moments of President Biden’s political career
President Joe Biden’s history in politics began long before 2008, when he ran alongside Barack Obama as his running mate in the 2008 Presidential election. President Joe Biden served an incredible 36 years in the Senate, eight years as Vice President, and has returned to the White House to serve America as the oldest Commander-in-Chief in U.S. history at 78 years old.
With a political history largely diminished by the accomplishments of those he worked alongside, it is critical to understand Biden’s achievements in office leading up to the 2020 election, as well as the personal setbacks he faced on his way to the White House.
Biden has been a historical politician since he first became a Senator in 1972 at the age of 29, making him the fifth-youngest person ever elected to the U.S. Senate. Tragedy marked Biden’s life since the start of his political career, as his wife and 13-month old daughter died in a car crash just weeks after securing his Senate seat. His two sons, Hunter and Beau, survived the crash but were hospitalized with severe injuries. Biden took his Senate oath in his son Beau’s hospital room.
At the time that Biden began his senate career, the win was a massive political upset. He achieved victory over an established two-term Republican Senator by running ad campaigns which portrayed Biden as the younger, more in touch and relatable candidate. The bottom of the ads read, “He understands what’s happening today.”
Biden’s accomplishments as a senator span across a multitude of different topics and policies. In 1979, he secured the passage of arms limitation agreement between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, successfully reducing the risk of global nuclear disaster. In 1986, he was one of the first senators to introduce a climate change bill, which then led to the formation of a climate change task force.
As a senator, Biden was a proponent of peace and security for various nations. He pushed the United States to intervene in the Yugoslav wars of the 1990’s, which brought peace to the region and ended ethnic cleansing. Biden also supported the expansion of NATO across Europe to include the Warsaw Pact nations: Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Through this NATO expansion, the United States was able to create a more unified and peaceful Europe.
Biden heavily pushed for civil rights to be at the forefront of U.S. politics, and worked as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee on multiple important cases. He urged then President Ronald Reagan to block Jeff Sessions from becoming a federal judge in Alabama, after allegations emerged that Sessions had made multiple racially insensitive remarks to his staff while working as a U.S. attorney in Alabama.
Biden then became chair of the Judiciary Committee in 1987. During his service until 1995, he played a key role in blocking the confirmation of conservative Supreme Court Nominee Robert Bork, as well as overseeing the confirmation of Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 1993, the second woman ever to sit on the court.
Regardless of these accomplishments, Biden is no stranger to criticism. During the 2020 Presidential Campaigns, Trump stated that he “did more in 47 months as President than Joe Biden did in 47 years.”
Biden has been criticized for certain controversial calls, such as writing and advocating for the 1994 Crime Bill, which he saw through the Senate and was signed into law by Bill Clinton. Both Republicans and Democrats see it as one of the greatest weaknesses of Biden’s senatorial career, as the bill was intended to lower crime nationwide but largely led to an increase in mass incarceration.
Biden worked to right these wrongs during his service as Vice President from 2008 to 2016. As VP during the Obama administration, Biden was a key negotiator with Republicans and reached across the aisle to help pass the 2010 Tax Relief Act, the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.
As a result of his 2016 work aimed at improving the “prevention, diagnosis and treatment” of cancer, and because of his ongoing commitment to healthcare and cancer research, the Lancet Oncology, a medical journal focused on the study of various cancers gave Biden an endorsement in Oct. of 2020.
Biden was a key negotiator in the passing of the Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as Obamacare, which guaranteed healthcare coverage for 20 million previously uninsured Americans, as well as those with pre-existing conditions.
Biden’s consistency as both a Senator and as Vice President, despite personal setbacks, speaks to his character as an individual and promises a bright future for Americans as we enter a new presidential administration.