When historians look back at the past half century in America, they may not judge Gerald Ford as a great president. He was not elected to the office, and nothing world-shaking was accomplished by his administration. He did sign the Helsinki Accords, which were a first step toward the end of the Cold War, and the Vietnam War ended during his presidency. But he also presided over one of the worst economies in the country’s history and, in a controversial and unpopular move, he granted a presidential pardon to Richard Nixon.
However, President Ford was exactly what this country needed after the tumult of Nixon’s abhorrent and corrupt behavior (one that seems almost trivial in comparison to that of the man who occupies the White House today). Ford was the reasonable, decent, honest leader who restored calm and tranquility—and even a certain amount of bipartisanship—to an ailing nation. At the end of Ford’s presidency, Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill stated: “God has been good to America, especially during difficult times. At the time of the Civil War, He gave us Abraham Lincoln. And at the time of Watergate, He gave us Gerald Ford—the right man at the right time who was able to put our nation back together again.”
I view Joe Biden as today’s Gerald Ford. Is Biden a brilliant statesman who would perform miracles as president? I don’t think so. But like Ford, he too is a decent, honest human being who loves his country more than himself or his political party. With help from a cooperative Congress, he could: restore America’s leadership role in the world by repairing our relationships with NATO and other friendly nations, bring us back to the table in the Paris Accords, stop Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons by rejoining the treaty with that country, renegotiate the Trans Pacific Partnership, fix the flaws in Obamacare, rescind the tax-cuts for the wealthy and begin to repair our infrastructure, stand up to white nationalists and other domestic enemies of our country, and not only institute background checks for gun buyers but outlaw civilian ownership of all military assault weapons.
In an idealized world, where egos would be set aside, I would like to see today’s Democratic candidates get together and state unequivocally that the most important, and most patriotic, goal is to save this nation from permanent damage by defeating Donald Trump in 2020. Those who have the opportunity would abandon their minuscule chances for the presidency by running for the Senate in order to gain a majority in that body and thus rid us of the obstructionist McConnell. Others would return to their current jobs and do everything in their power to help dump Trump. Kamela Harris would swallow her pride, apologize to Biden for having ambushed him, and agree to be his running mate.
For his part, Joe Biden would announce that he is running to be a one-term president. He would pledge that, following four years of restoration of calm and America’s leadership position in the world, he would retire and hand over the reins to someone younger and more vigorous. At his swearing-in ceremony, Joe Biden might evoke the words of Gerald Ford at the latter’s inaugural:
“Our constitution works. Our great republic is a government of laws, and not of men. Here, the people rule.”
That is my idealized world. Can it happen? Sure. Will it happen? Probably not. But I can dream, can’t I?