By now, most Americans know the name Joe Biden, the recently inaugurated President of the United States. Joseph Robinette Biden was born Nov. 20, 1947 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He was the 44th vice president of the United States, and six-time senator of Delaware.
As a child, Biden had a debilitating stutter, which he still struggles with today. He attended Archmere Academy, a Catholic prep school, where he played wide receiver on the football team. After graduating from Archmere, he received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware, and a law degree from Syracuse University. During the same time, he married Neilia Hunter, who he later had three children with. He worked as an attorney for a brief period of time, before being elected to the New Castle County Council, as an Independent, in the usually Republican district. He ran on a liberal platform that supported public housing.
He was elected as Delaware’s senator in 1972, running on a campaign of withdrawal from Vietnam, as well as environmental and civil rights. He defeated the Republican incumbent, Senator Boggs, with 50.5 percent of the vote. Only weeks after he was elected, his wife and three children were involved in an automobile accident. His wife and 13-month-old daughter, Naomi, were killed, and his two sons seriously injured. Although he considered resigning from his position to take care of his children, he was persuaded to stay his course. Biden was then sworn into the Senate by his son’s hospital bedside.
Biden was re-elected to the Senate position six more times and became their longest-serving senator. While in office, he focused on environmental issues, government accountability, and international arms control. He described himself as liberal on civil rights and liberties, senior citizens’ concerns, and healthcare, but conservative on issues such as abortion and the draft. At this time he publicly opposed the outcome of Roe v. Wade, but has since then revoked his statements.
In the 1970s, Biden said that he opposed the idea of court-ordered bus desegregation in schools, and preferred the idea of desegregating other fields of life such as in housing. He thought that the desegregation of buses could cause racial tensions in schools. Biden claimed that he did not want children like his own to grow up in a “racial jungle.” He also actively worked with segregationist senators in that time frame, and has come under fire for it recently by Vice President Kamala Harris and Senator Cory Booker during his 2020 presidential campaign.
In 1988, he had a brain aneurysm, for which he underwent two surgeries. This medical issue was discovered after repetitive headaches.
In the 1990s, he voted in favor of the “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy and voted against the legalization of gay marriage. Biden served on the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, a group of senators who are designated to oversee the Department of Justice. While he was a senator, Biden launched a controversial initiative to up prison sentences, build more prisons, and increase incarceration rates. He then defended that initiative in 2016. He sponsored the Violence Against Women Act, which reformed penalties for sexual assault. It helped victims get retribution and justice in court against their attackers. Internationally, he focused on arms control issues while serving in the Senate.
Biden attempted to run for president twice before the 2020 race. He dropped out of his first presidential run in the 1980s after being accused of plagiarizing a speech. He then ran again in 2008, but quickly withdrew from the election, due to his campaign never gaining much traction. In August of the same year, he signed on as Barack Obama’s vice president. Obama and Biden were elected to the positions of president and vice president, respectively, on Nov. 4th, 2008. In 2012, they were re-elected to the positions.
Biden served as an adviser to Obama and was a strong advocate of his administration and policies. He played an influential role in creating U.S. policies with Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries. He was called one of the Obama administration’s “highest-ranking emissaries to Ukraine.” While working in Ukraine, his son, Hunter Biden, received a job with a Ukrainian energy company. It has been speculated that Hunter Biden only received this job due to his father’s influence.
Preceding the 2012 election, Biden made a statement openly supporting gay marriage. He was one of the first member of the Obama administration to do so. This reportedly sparked a bit of tension between Biden and then-president Obama, who was gearing up for re-election and did not want to start any controversy.
Near the end of his second term as vice president, in 2015, Biden’s eldest son, Beau, died of brain cancer. When asked to run in the 2016 presidential election, he declined, his son’s death playing a significant role in his decision.
During his vice presidency, multiple sexual assault allegations came out about him, which he vehemently denied. All women have a similar story, that Biden invaded their personal space, giving them unwanted hugs and kisses on the head and cheek. After leaving the White House, he launched the Biden Foundation with his wife.
In April of 2019, Biden announced that he would be running for president in the 2020 election. He campaigned on government aid for low-income communities, climate change initiatives, and the expansion of federal health care.
Last November, he beat the incumbent Republican candidate, Donald Trump, in the race for president. Four days after the ballots began to be counted, he was confirmed to have received the 270 electoral votes necessary to secure his presidency. He won the swing states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
The Biden-Harris administration has come into office with the country in a state of division. There is no telling yet how they will manage it, but this will certainly be the biggest challenge of Biden’s political career so far.