On Tuesday, Apr. 25, 2023, U.S. president Joe Biden announced his 2024 presidential reelection campaign through a promotional video on Youtube. Any Berkeley High School student born on or before November 5th, 2006 will be eligible to vote for the first time in the 2024 presidential election. Many BHS students are reflecting on Biden’s past term, in the context of their hopes for American politics going forward.
Biden said in his promotional video, “The question we’re facing is, whether in the years ahead, we have more freedom or less freedom, more rights or fewer.”
Aadi Weber, a BHS senior said, “They thought he would be president for four years and then we would see another democrat to transition out of the Trump era. I think that he can still be a transitional leader, even if he does serve for a total of eight years.”
Yakov Fenton, a senior in the Politics and Power class, explained how Biden has faced a lot of problems in his presidency but hasn’t created new systems in response.
“He’s been kind of trying to fix a problem created by everything that’s happened during the pandemic,” Fenton said, “It’s hard to determine what help he can do, considering that he’s kind of tried to fix stuff rather than create new things.”
Milosz Hastings Porro, a BHS spanish teacher, elaborated on how successful Biden would be in his second term, “I think it would be a repeat, nothing good or bad happened. It’s (electing Biden) is kind of like coasting when something needs to happen.”
In the 2020 election, a popular motto that circulated the democratic party was, “Settle for Biden.” Although some democrats didn’t want Biden as president, a dislike of Trump united many in the party. In the primary election some voters were willing to sacrifice some of their progressive values to nominate a moderate candidate who was more likely to defeat former president Trump. An anonymous tenth grader said, “It was settle for Biden. Right? They (voters) don’t actually want Biden (to win).”
In theory, Biden could use the same strategy again. Hastings Porro said, “It could work but it’ll be a lot more challenging because now people actually know what happened or didn’t happen under Biden. More people might not vote because it could be the same thing (as last term), and nothing really happened.”
One thing he did do was approve the Willow Project, an oil drilling project in Alaska. Rita Azul Huhndorf-Lima is the co-president of the Native Student Union. They said, “As an Alaska native myself, it doesn’t really give me confidence (in Biden’s leadership).” She said, “As a citizen it feels like a failure on part of the system. This sort of old centrist guy is the only person who could have possibly won against Donald Trump, it’s disappointing to have to gun for middle ground instead.”
Biden is now the oldest president to serve in office at 80 years old, and 86 by the end of his second term. Sam Rozen, a BHS teacher said, “I think that we need fresh blood in the government in general. I don’t think that everyone in the government should be 80 years old and have already been there for 50 years.” Sebastian Minnmurry, a sophmore elaborated, “He doesn’t know what the younger generation is going through.”
As he ages, health concerns are becoming more prevalent. Rozen said, “I also think that, cognitively, he’s failing and it’s not getting any better, and another year plus four on top of that, I can’t imagine where he’ll be at the end of that.” Hastings Porro said how it feels to have an older president who might be facing health issues, “I feel like it doesn’t affect states sometimes as much, especially because we’re (California) a pretty progressive state…but it affects a lot of the US.”
Hastings-Porro offered alternative candidates, he stated, “I think Bernie or Elizabeth Warren would be much better,” while Rozen gave a more broad criteria and said, “I just want the best for the country, but I wish we had some young, fresh, innovative, energetic person to step in.”
The elections are quickly approaching and many are uncertain of the outcome. Rozen said, “I just don’t want the chaos…. I have no idea how it’s (the election) going to go in 2024.”
Weber can vote in the next election, stating her strategy for being an informed voter, “I do a lot of reading, I watch PBS clips, I’m taking Globalization (an elective at BHS), I was in Politics and Power, and in Youth and Government…I feel like immersing yourself is