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Let’s Stop Stigmatizing Joe Biden’s Mental Acuity and Verbal Gaffes

There has been a rise in news reports focusing on Joe Biden’s verbal gaffes and questioning his mental acuity. His opponents in the Democratic Party as well as Republicans, are hoping this will discourage voters from supporting him. The result of this will be that people either vote for Trump, or they stay home thinking their vote won’t really matter.

I want to share why Joe Biden’s verbal gaffes and possible cognitive issues wouldn’t stop me from support him.

Verbal Gaffes

In my work as a technology consultant, I regularly work with people who have cognitive issues. Technology is an obstacle for them. Although they can tell me in great detail about some event in their life from 40 years ago, they are challenged by the ‘simple’ 37-step processes required to perform just about any task these days involving anything with a keyboard or buttons. Despite some challenges with technology, any senior moments or minor cognitive issues don’t impede their ability to continue living a full life.

For people with cognitive challenges, it’s in that gray area between what they know with confidence and what they don’t know where problems arise. It’s like driving at night and you don’t know when a deer is going to jump out in front of your car. You’re on edge.

We know that Joe Biden has struggled with speech his entire life. There still seems to be some awkwardness when speaking in front of crowds. Perhaps not being sure of himself heightens the stress. Biden knows at some point he’s going to say the wrong thing. He’s just waiting for the next gaffe to jump in front of him like a deer on the road. That makes the problem worse.

But I’m not going to let someone’s public speaking abilities limit what I believe their success in life can be.

Mental Acuity and Inclusion

We’re all familiar with the stories of kids in high school who get bullied because they are different. Then the football team or basketball team befriend them as a gesture of kindness. These are touching stories that inspire us to be more kind to others.

Joe Biden is not the youngest presidential candidate. He’s not the most eloquent. He’s not had great success with fundraising. He’s lost elections in many key states, and he’s lost numerous elections in the past. He might not be the smartest candidate. He’s possibly not the ‘best’ choice for the Democratic Party nominee.

In the 24-hours before Super Tuesday, and in the 48 hours that followed, Joe Biden was endorsed by Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Mike Bloomberg, and now Kamala Harris, as well as other high profile leaders. These people not only endorsed Biden, they immediately began campaigning for him.

People who are richer than Biden, smarter than Biden, more successful, and winning states where Biden came in fourth place, those people are putting aside their egos, and lifting up Biden.

In my mind, what I see, is the basketball team who goes to the bench and lifts the bullied kid onto their shoulders, and then they give let him take what turns out to be the shot that wins the game.

I’m proud of Democrats for supporting Joe Biden. We need to be a society of inclusion so that everyone, regardless of their perceived abilities, can be involved.

The Oscar and Emmy Tradition

If you’ve watched any of the Hollywood events that honor those in acting for their roles, you will have noticed that each year it seems like someone is given an award in the later years of their career as a gesture of respect and appreciation. This might be someone who thinks they’ve been forgotten as a new generation is focused on new talent.

When the Democratic Party rallied around Joe Biden prior to Super Tuesday, and gave him a push over the finish line, it reminded me of that tradition in Hollywood. He’s someone who was considered unlikely to win in 2020, and now he’s being given a chance to run. He’s been in public service for decades. I don’t necessarily agree with his positions or support his voting record, but he’s been involved, which I admire.

Can Biden Function as President?

The more serious question regarding Biden is whether or not he has the metal acuity to make the difficult executive decisions required of a President.

There have been some incidents recently where Biden has had more severe gaffes such as stating he was arrested in South Africa while trying to see Nelson Mandela, something that didn’t happen. Biden claims to have worked on the Paris Climate Accord with former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, who died 19 years before the agreement was signed. Trevor Noah offered a montage of gaffe clips in his show just before Super Tuesday. Some are concerned that Biden is knowingly telling fabricated stories.

Either intentionally or from a lack of knowledge, Donald Trump made over 16,000 false or misleading claims in his first three years, yet he seems to be accomplishing plenty for his backers. So, it’s doubtful that a few gaffes from Biden will be a problem.

We need to stop stigmatizing people with speech difficulties and cognitive challenges.

In my mind, the most important role of a president is to exemplify kindness, respect, humility, and understanding. Biden seems well prepared in that regard. The other details of running the country will be handled by cabinet members, appointees, and those heading up agencies.

Here’s a video of Biden being presidential.

Full Disclosure

Over the past year, I’ve supported every Democratic Party presidential candidate except Joe Biden. I don’t dislike him. I’ve just not felt a connection with him, perhaps because of his voting record. So, I’m not a long time supporter, but I wanted to share the above because I think it’s important we have a more inclusive society.

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com

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