Dr. Kalyanaram is a highly cited scholar whose research covers Management Science; Education and Public Policy; Economics; and Innovation.  He has been a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, and the East-European and Russian Research Center.  

Joe Biden Must Now Run for the Democratic Party Nomination, Here is Why?

Joe Biden Must Now Run for the Democratic Party Nomination, Here is Why?

In the recent past, some women have come forward to complain that Joe Biden intruded their personal space in some of his interactions with them in public events, and that they felt uncomfortable – sometimes very uncomfortable -- by that behavior.

There have been wide-ranging reactions to these allegations: support, defense and general counsel (that he behave with greater awareness henceforth.)  

Biden himself has responded with, “I get it,” video statement

Essentially, everyone – the offended women, his empathizers, his defenders and his detractors – want Joe Biden to take responsibility for his sometimes intrusive behavior and show greater mindfulness going forward.

That’s what Joe Biden has prescribes for himself in his ‘I get it’ message. 

Joe Biden deserves the opportunity to demonstrate that he has changed, and those offended by his actions deserve to see that Biden has listened to their concerns as reflected in his behavior.

But we will not get such opportunity unless we get to see Joe Biden interact in unscripted public settings often enough so that we can draw our own inferences.  Observations from one or two or three interactions will not be enough -- dozens of them will be necessary.  Similarly, observations from interactions in scripted settings will not be enough.  Interactions in unscripted moments and settings are necessary.  Consistency and spontaneity are necessary elements.  

That’s why Joe Biden must run for the Democratic Party’s nomination for Presidency of United States.  There is no better process where we will learn about the new Joe Biden –- aware and sensitive, and empathetic and kind.

Win or lose the nomination, through this process Joe Biden can vindicate himself.  If not, the recent complaints of insensitivity will be the closing chapter to a long public service. 

Similarly, if Biden joined the race and demonstrated sensitivity those who have felt offended will be able to draw some satisfaction that they moved forward the conversation on an important and sensitive topic and that they could modify the behavior of one of the most powerful men.

Here is the alternative scenario.  Joe Biden decides not to run for the nomination, and he retires from public life.  Biden will then be making speeches in scripted settings, and interacting deliberately.  There will not be too many spontaneous moments.  Most of his life will not be in public.

In this scenario, who would know and believe even if he were a changed man.  He will not have an opportunity to demonstrate his mindfulness and that he got it.  

The offended (and other) women will not get to see if they were able to positively impact the behavior of a powerful man – and men in general.

The larger public will lose too.  We will not get to see what are the boundaries that the society deems acceptable in man-woman relationship.

This can be a teachable and learning moment.  For this to be case, we need Joe Biden to run. 

Of course, I am not pretending Biden’s run will be a perfect test.  After all, Biden might lose the nomination – not for his conduct – but for not being progressive enough.  Or he might win because he is the pragmatic moderate.  There are many confounding factors that will determine the outcome of the nomination race.

But the conduct of Biden will certainly clarify his and our awareness of the need to respect the personal space.

Roger Cohen may be right: Joe Biden may be hit very hard.  But that’s the sacrifice that Biden has to make.  And he will be remembered forever for his courage and grace.

Karl Rove may be right: Joe Biden might be the next President of United States.  If that were to be the case, Biden would have earned it.

Whether Cohen is right or Rove is, Joe Biden would have closed his public life and service with much dignity. Biden would have served the cause of women – and the society -- well by engaging in the political process energetically.