Opinion | What Biden might say if he decides to end his re-election campaign

Opinion | What Biden might say if he decides to end his re-election campaign

Opinion | What Biden might say if he decides to end his re-election campaign

Today we celebrate not only the birth of our nation, but the life it has lived.

How have we survived so long? How have we survived, grown, and thrived? Our extraordinary framers were guided by a revolutionary premise: our union would never be perfect. We would not be ruled by an all-powerful king or sovereign. We would always be a work in progress as a nation and as individuals. Each generation would build on the efforts of its predecessors. This was essential for a lasting republic.

The framers of the Constitution were shaped by hardship: they carried out a revolution on the edge of a wild frontier. They knew that life has seasons, and service seasons. They knew, too, that relying on a single individual, a king, might create the illusion of strength, but would be fragile beneath.

I have been reflecting on all of this over the past few days. My season of service is drawing to a close. It was a difficult truth to face, but it is the natural course of things, as evident as the transition from spring to summer and from fall to winter. That is why I have decided to withdraw from the campaign for the presidency of the United States.

This moment is reminiscent of the one George Washington faced as he neared the end of his second term. Fear of instability and the unknown — who would come next — counseled him not to risk a premature exit. John Adams was combative. Thomas Jefferson was radical. But Washington stayed out of the way, even though the Constitution of the day did not require it. He looked beyond ambition and self-centeredness to focus on what the nation needed most at the moment, and declared by his actions that America would not rely on one indispensable man. Power would be transferred regularly and peacefully.

A big part of me still wants to keep fighting, but right now the nation needs something I can’t offer: a leader with the energy to run a vigorous campaign and then work for America, around the clock, for the next four years.

I have often spoken about how I began my career in public service as a senator at age 30. During that time, I have seen the end of the Cold War, the invention of the Internet, and more; in many ways, unimaginable scientific and social advances have become a reality. I have also witnessed the sharpening of partisan divisions and the hardening of our nation’s politics.

These unfortunate trends did not begin with Donald Trump, but the former president has exploited and exacerbated them, encouraging Americans to disparage their fellow citizens, even to rise up against our democracy, as they did on January 6, 2021. Trump’s unique danger lies in his claim that he alone can lead the nation. I will not make the same mistake. Nor will I do anything that would facilitate his return to power. Staying in the race could do just that.

The question people asked as Washington stepped aside was: What now? I owe the American people an answer to that question, too. The Democratic National Committee, top Democratic leaders, and I have agreed to an orderly process for selecting our next nominee, which will include debates between now and our convention in August. My vice president, Kamala Harris, has graciously and courageously agreed to participate. While Democratic primary voters cannot be included at this late date, their delegates will make the final decision.

Between now and November, I will do everything I can to support the next Democratic nominee and encourage Americans to rediscover the optimism and spirit that built this nation. Last week, Mr. Trump described a country in the throes of a deep and unprecedented crisis. His story of America was a fiction. This is not the country I see.

Four years ago, the pandemic was raging. More than 10 million Americans were out of work. Many businesses and schools were closed. People were exhausted by Trump’s chaos. Today, our economy is the envy of the world, thanks to 15 million new jobs, extraordinarily low unemployment, and a startup boom. A record number of Americans have health insurance, and we’ve made historic investments in our infrastructure and in the fight against climate change. Our allies respect us again, as we’ve rallied the free world against Russian aggression.

Americans, I invite you to do some soul-searching as I did. Are we so unsure of ourselves that we will give power to a would-be king, who has been granted sweeping powers by an activist Supreme Court? Or will we look back at Washington’s example, in the springtime of American life, and recognize that our independence is based on service, sacrifice, a willingness to assume the best in each other, and a belief that better times are ahead?