• Reading Level 5
Science | History | Geography | PSHE

The Average Joe who could triumph over Trump

Is ordinariness the secret of his success? He is not always suave and sophisticated. But if he wins tomorrow, Joe Biden will become the oldest first-time American president in history. At his home in Delaware, the young boy was staring intensely into the mirror. The other children mocked him mercilessly. They called him “Dash” and “Joe Impedimenta” – all because he had a stutter. Even the nuns who taught at his school made fun of him. The boy took a deep breath. Then he opened his mouth and began to speak, reciting the long passages of Irish poetry seared into his brain. He would not stop talking until the stutter was gone. Today, more than 60 years later, this young boy could within days be destined to become the most powerful person in the world, with the capacity to do huge good or tremendous harm. But for Joe Biden, the path that has taken him nearly all the way to the top has not been easy. Joseph Biden Jr was born in 1942 in Scranton, Pennsylvania to a middle-class family that had fallen on hard times. As a child, he moved to Delaware, where his father found work as a used car salesman. After overcoming his stutter, Biden studied history and politics at university before attending law school. He was not the brightest student – he graduated 76th out of 85 in his class – but he went on to be a successful lawyer, before turning his attention to a career in politics. An opportunity arose in 1972, when the Delaware Democratic Party encouraged him to run for a seat in the US Senate. Few thought he had any chance of winning, but with his sister as his campaign manager, he scored an upset victory. At 29, he was the fifth-youngest senator ever elected. Tragedy struck just weeks after his victory when his wife Neilia and their one-year-old daughter were killed in a car accident while Christmas shopping. His two young sons survived, badly injured. Still in shock, he took his oath of office from his sons’ hospital room. “I felt God had played a horrible trick on me, and I was angry,” he later said. Over the next 30 years, he forged a notable Senate career, becoming Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. But throughout it all, Biden harboured a deep desire to be president. An initial campaign in 1987 ended quickly after accusations of plagiarism. Then in 2008, his second run failed to gain traction and he lost out to the young senator, Barack Obama. Instead, he became Obama’s vice-president. The two men forged a strong bond, and in January 2017, just days before they left office, Obama presented an emotional Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a surprise ceremony. It was a second devastating event that prevented Biden from seeking the top job in 2016. His son Beau, a decorated war veteran, died from brain cancer in May 2015. Even today, Biden’s bid to lead the free world has not been smooth sailing. He has passionately defended his surviving son, Hunter, after Donald Trump attacked him over his business dealings and drug addictions. And the former senator is notorious for his gaffes – just last week, he mistakenly called his opponent “George”. So, is ordinariness the secret of his success? Aiming high Yes, say some. Joe Biden has prevailed in politics because he can empathise with the struggles of the electorate. Like many Americans, he has suffered personal tragedies and career setbacks, and will defend his family despite any flaws. He may occasionally be forgetful and say the wrong thing – but voters are looking for a leader they can connect with, not one who is perfect. No, say others. Biden is successful not because he is ordinary, but because he has worked hard and risen through the ranks to become a senator and then vice-president. And while pollsters suggest he will be victorious, he was not many Democrats’ first choice in the primaries. It may be anti-Trump sentiment, rather than a love for Joe Biden himself, that is driving voters to the polls. KeywordsPlagiarism - Copying someone else's work and pretending it is your own.

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