Who is Joe Biden?

The 2020 US election has dominated headlines for months, and following a record turnout of voters, an emotionally divided nation and the prospect of a legal battle to fight the outcome of the result – Democrat Joe Biden has beaten Republican Donald Trump to become the 46th President of the United States of America.

While the US is still in the midst of debating the finality of the election, Biden will be sworn into the Oval Office in January 2021.

While business leaders across the UK react to the news, Business Leader investigates who Joe Biden really is and his journey to the White House.

US Election 2020

Third time is a charm for Biden when it comes to running for President. Having run for the top job in US politics in 1987 and 2008 – the Democrat surpassed the necessary 270 electoral college votes needed to secure the Presidency from 2021. As of today (12/11/2020), Biden is on 279, with rival Trump currently on 217. There are currently a few regions which have yet to declare a winner, or are currently recounting votes.

In the most emotionally-charged vote in US history, preliminary voting figures revealed that this is the highest turnout of voters since 1900 – with 66.4% of eligible citizens casting their vote.

Biden currently has 50.8% of the national popular vote, with Trump on 47.4% – a lead of around five million votes. Although final figures have yet to be finalised, both candidates have secured the first and second most amount of votes in US history (believed to be around 77 million for Biden and 72 million for Trump). Despite being projected to lose the election, Trump secured over nine million more votes than he accomplished in his victory over Democrat Hilary Clinton in the 2016 election.

According to Edison Research into exit polls for this US election, Biden was more popular amongst female, Black, Hispanic, Asian, college graduates and 18-64 year old voters. Trump was more popular with male, white and over-65 year old voters.

At 77 years old, Biden will become the oldest US President in history – far surpassing the inauguration average of 55 years old.

History prior to politics

Pending the outcome of any legal challenges from Donald Trump and his team – Biden will take his seat at the Oval Office for the next four years, starting in January 2021.

But what was his journey to a political career?

The 77-year old was born on November 20th 1942 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His parents, Joseph and Catherine were of Irish descent. Although initially wealthy, the family suffered several financial setbacks, which at a time led to the family living with his maternal grandparents. Following years of decline in his hometown, the family moved to Delaware (Claymont, then Delaware) in the 1950s, where his father would secure steady work – and eventually had a successful career as a used car salesman. A career that led to the Biden’s enjoying a middle-class lifestyle.

During his school years, he was a standout American football player, but was not known for being a good student. However, he was already showing signs of leadership, having been class president throughout his years at Archmere Academy in Claymont.

Following his graduation in 1961, he joined the University of Delaware, where he earned an arts degree, with a double major in history and political science, with a minor in English. Again, he wasn’t a standout student, as he secured a C-grade average, and was ranked 506th out of 688 students.

In 1966 he married Neilla Hunter, with whom he had three children – Joseph ‘Beau’, Robert and Amy. Only Robert is still alive today.

In 1968, he became a qualified lawyer in Delaware.

He avoided conscription to the US army due to asthma.

Later that year, he joined Wilmington Law Firm, which was headed up by Republican candidate William Prickett. At the time Biden identified as a Republican, but when asked to register, he didn’t due to dislike for Richard Nixon.

A year later, he became a Democrat, and along with another law attorney – he formed his own law firm.

By the end of 1969, Biden was also working within property management to supplement his income.

Political career

Biden’s first steps into US politics came in 1969 when he was elected to the county council in New Castle County in Delaware, as a Democrat in a typically Republican area. He continued in the role, alongside his work at his law firm, until 1972.

That year was when Biden first made his name on a national political stage. He was elected to the US Senate for state of Delaware. He had almost no budget, and was told that no one would defeat incumbent Republican J. Caleb Boggs – but defeated him due to his focus on face-to-face meetings with the public, personally distributing position papers – as well as focusing his campaign around US withdrawal from Vietnam, changing transport and standing up for more civil rights. Although being behind in the polls in the lead up to the vote – he secure more than 50% of the final total number of voters.

Tragically, a few weeks after securing his seat, his wife and young daughter were killed in a car accident.

Biden twice chose to run for President in 1987 and 2008.

However, he remained the United States Senator for Delaware until 2009, when he became the 47th Vice President of the United States during the Barack Obama Presidency – a role he would have until January 2017, when the Trump administration began.

Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2017 – an honour bestowed upon a US citizen who has had ‘an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavours’.

On June 8th 2020, Biden was selected as the Democratic presidential nominee for the election.

Who is Kamala Harris?

Biden’s choice for Vice President is US Senator for California – Kamala Harris. The 56-year-old was born and raised in Oakland and has served in the US government since 2004. For seven years she was the District Attorney of San Francisco – and in 2011 she became the Attorney General of California. She held the role until 2017, when she became a senator.

She was considered a front runner for the Democratic nomination for President – however, that would go to Biden. She withdrew from the race in December 2019 due to a lack of funds for her campaign and in March 2020, she endorsed Biden.

On the 11th August, Biden announced that he had chosen Harris for his running mate – and will now take up the role of the Vice President.

Harris will become the female, Black and Asian-American Vice President in history.

Who will he choose to be a part of his administration?

Other than Harris, only one announcement has been made regarding who will play a key role within Biden’s administration.

Long-time political advisor Ron Klain, will take up the role of Chief of Staff. He previously had this role in the mid-1990s and during Obama’s first term as President.

Speculation has been rising around who else he will incorporate into his inner circle.

John Kerry – a former Secretary of State, Elizabeth Warren – Senator for Massachusetts, Susan Rice – a national security advisor, Chris Coons – Delaware’s new Senator, former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and fellow former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, are the talk of Washington in the last few weeks regarding the most senior positions.

What will he do as President?

Following a theatrical and hotly contested campaign on both sides – the US have selected Biden to preside over the leading pollical role in the country for the next four years. But, what are his goals?

Unsurprisingly, his first is to undo many of Trump’s policies – something that endeared him to many centrist voters during the election. Primarily, this is around the US-Mexican border, travel bans to/from Muslim countries, investing in green energy alternatives, reversing student debt/fees, and re-joining the Paris Accord. Biden also plans on increasing the national minimum wage, but no details have been finalised for this yet.

Biden plans on reinstating Obamacare and even expanding on its original plans. He plans on expanding the public health insurance scheme that he introduced as Obama’s Vice President, and implement a plan that will aim to ensure an up to 97% of the American population.

Away from the election and the spread of the coronavirus pandemic – one of the major talking points of 2020 has been the ever-worsening relationship between the world’s top two global powers – the US and China. Along with many other nations that have been vociferous in their dislike for Donald Trump and his policies, Biden has said that one of his main goals is to rebuild international relationships.

Another major talking point in the US has been the issues facing racial prejudice and policing across the US. Biden has promised major reforms – but has rejected calls to ‘defund the police’.

Perhaps the most immediate major political move for Biden will be in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden plans to hire 100,000 Americans to set up a national COVID-19 contact-tracing programme, with 10 testing centres in each of the country’s 50 States. Opposite to Trump, Biden has said that all US Senators and leading politicians should mandate wearing masks.

When will Joe Biden become President?

Assuming there will be no legal action taken which will affect the outcome and timelines of the inauguration – Joe Biden will officially become the 46th President of the United States of America on Wednesday 20th January 2021.

Will Joe Biden be a good President? What will his relationship be with the UK? How will the US change in comparison to Trump’s four years? If you wish to share your opinion, please comment below or email editor@businessleader.co.uk.

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