If nothing else is true, COVID-19 is a wake-up call to all of us about the need for strong, smart, and resolute leadership.
Donald Trump is not that kind of leader. He ducks all responsibility for mistakes, provides false information, and blames the crisis on others (Europeans, a “foreign” virus, the Obama administration, and so on). His VP, Mike Pence, has been a non-entity for years and has done nothing to allay the concerns of Americans.
Meanwhile, the Democratic front runner, Joe Biden, has given short remarks read off a teleprompter. I see headlines like “Can Biden handle a two-hour debate?” and I wince. If serious people think Biden may not have the physical and mental endurance to perform well in a staged political conversation, how can we possibly believe he is fit enough to be president for four years? Biden will be 78 in November, and none of us is getting younger. If there are serious concerns about his mental and physical stamina now, when he’s not being pushed, how can there not be profound concerns about his ability to handle the burden of presidential leadership? Severe stress ages everyone, and we shouldn’t close our eyes to this reality.
Roughly the same age, Bernie Sanders appears mentally and physically robust, and his speeches on the pandemic have been sensible, detailed, and smart. But even Bernie isn’t getting any younger.
In Biden’s case, people may argue that Joe can always fall back on his VP if he fails in office. But we don’t elect a president with the idea that he’s infirm and may soon need to pass his duties to a younger man or woman.
There is one presidential candidate still in the running for the Democrats who is strong, smart, and resolute and who is young to boot: Tulsi Gabbard. She is 39 and has dramatic ideas to help ordinary Americans during this crisis. Yet she’s been excluded from the Democratic debate by the DNC that can’t forgive her for supporting Bernie Sanders in 2016 while criticizing corruption within the party.
As Americans, we need to get serious about our leaders. Trump has shown he has no answers. Biden’s debate performances (among other public appearances) raise serious questions about his mental and physical capacity for office.
Yet as of this moment these two men appear to be our likely choices come November. At a time of severe crisis, that’s no choice at all.