Why You Should Be Excited About A Possible Biden Run For President

Photo: Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic.
Vice President Joe Biden said earlier this summer that he wouldn't run against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, but it turns out he may have changed his mind. Biden confirmed he is considering a run for the White House on Wednesday, and a new poll released Thursday shows him doing better than Hillary Clinton against every Republican candidate. He's also spoken with both President Barack Obama and progressive superstar Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

But when he spoke with Democratic National Committee members about his plans on Wednesday night, the vice president admitted that the death of his son Beau still weighs on him. "We’re dealing at home with…whether or not there is the emotional fuel at this time to run,” he said, according to CNN.

We may not know for sure if we're about to get another presidential candidate, but now we have time to consider the 72-year-old from Delaware. As it turns out, there’s a lot to like.

He’s the man behind the Violence Against Women Act.

In 1990, Biden introduced the historic bill, which was designed to reduce domestic violence and sexual assault, increase services for survivors of these crimes, and support community groups who work on these issues. He’s called it his “proudest legislative accomplishment,” and he has continued to work on these issues. When the White House launched “It’s On Us,” a campaign to stop sexual assault and dating violence on college campuses, Obama asked Biden to lead it.

He pushed Obama to publicly back marriage equality.

After the Supreme Court’s June decision to expand the right to marriage to same-sex couples, it’s easy to forget that three years ago, even the president hadn’t given it his support. But, in May of 2012, Obama’s views on the subject “evolved” shortly after Biden said that he was “absolutely comfortable” with marriage equality for all. The president insisted that he’d been planning on making a statement on same-sex marriage by the end of the summer, but after Biden’s comments, Obama had to make his opinion clear. LGBTQ advocates are still fighting for more rights and legal protections from discrimination, so the next president will have plenty of opportunities to “evolve” too.

Even his weaknesses could be good for the campaign.

Clinton has already distanced herself from laws her husband signed in the 90s that contributed to the mass incarceration of people of color, but if Biden joins the race, expect to hear a lot more talk about the policies that civil rights activists are trying hard to undo. It won't be because he opposed the bill while he was a senator; Biden had a huge role in writing the massive 1994 crime bill that funded an explosion in prison construction and the number of police on the streets; and Biden was also instrumental in passing mandatory minimums for drug offenses.

Biden has spoken proudly of his work on these bills and his "tough on crime" stances in the past, which means he'd have a lot to answer for to Black Lives Matter activists, who are already a major force in this election. Criminal justice reform will be one of the main issues of 2016, and the only way for Clinton or Biden to win the trust of voters is to reckon with less than admirable records, and find a better way forward. That would be a legitimately interesting campaign development.

He’s not afraid to show his feelings.

Showing emotion has been a double-edged sword for Clinton, but Biden’s very public displays of feeling make him seem different from fellow lifelong politicians. Biden has experienced an almost unimaginable amount of tragedy in his life. From the loss of his first wife and baby daughter just after he was elected to the Senate, to the death of his son Beau to brain cancer in May, his career in public office has been closely tied to loss.

But Biden has never shied away from expressing sadness, and it’s led to some moving moments. He gave a speech to family members of fallen soldiers that was heartbreaking in its honesty and candor, three years before his son's death.

"Just when you think, ‘Maybe I’m going to make it,’ you’re riding down the road and you pass a field and you see a flower, and it reminds you,” Biden said. “Or you hear a tune on the radio. Or you just look up in the night. You know, you think, ‘Maybe I’m not going to make it, man.' Because you feel at that moment the way you felt the day you got the news."

Win or lose — or stay out completely — we’ll always have Diamond Joe.

It started with a gaffe — or a series of perceived missteps by Biden during his campaign, and after he took office. Whether he’s offending people he’s trying to compliment, swearing in an unguarded moment with the press, or telling a rambling anecdote about his Irish family, Biden has a very different style than most political candidates.

That’s why it felt so, so right when The Onion started running stories about Vice President Joe Biden, your favorite dirtbag from high school. The satirical site’s stories about the weed-dealing, Trans Am driving ne’er-do-well second-in-command were so perfectly realized and hilarious, even Biden loved them. Another Biden run would be a great opportunity to bring them back, and the vice president will almost certainly give the writers more real-life material to work with.

This story was originally published on August 26, 2015. It has been updated.