He may be older, but President Biden has what Trump and DeSantis sorely lack: substance | Opinion

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President Joe Biden is running for re-election, and now that he’s made it official — casting aside the consideration that he’s 80 — I couldn’t be happier for GOP-hijacked Florida.

Biden can get away with ending a two-term presidency at 86. A woman couldn’t.

However, Biden’s a white establishment male, and here’s an opportunity to put privilege to work for the greater good.

Red states like ours need the federal protection Biden’s reelection would bring against unabashed and contagious fascism, racism, fanaticism, idolatry for one-party rule — and guns.

Moderate Biden may be older, but he has what the two leading 2024 Republican contenders, former President Donald Trump, 76, and youthful Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, 44, sorely lack: substance, experience, humanity and basic decency guiding policy.

Plus, an integral part of Biden’s character is the philosophy that this is a free and democratic country for all, not only for people of one religious persuasion, which is what DeSantis’ ballyhooed “freedom” stands for.

Neither a disgraced ex-president under a mountain of legal trouble nor a dank, dictatorial governor would be a match for a younger Biden. But, despite the advances of medicine and Biden’s healthy lifestyle, ageism remains an integral part of the culture.

The race may come down to whether we value personal freedoms more than prejudice.

Biden doesn’t need Florida

Florida needs Biden, but Biden doesn’t need Florida, the 2020 election and 2022 midterms proved.

Trump and DeSantis’ popularity in Florida rose on the heels of a deteriorating Democratic Party, lost to internal malaise, division, and the taking for granted that Black and Latino voters would remain loyal, no matter what.

Biden hasn’t brought people back to the party from the throes of fanaticism, but Gen Z is rising, and ironically, it may the youngest voters who re-elect Grandpa.

Biden lost Florida and still won the presidency.

Floridians, however, lost civil rights and peace of mind. That shouldn’t be lost on national voters.

The state’s purple standing meant politicians of different persuasions had to earn our vote. A dominant, one-party system with guaranteed wins in partisan redrawn districts has left a trail of unpopular mandates, like a six-week abortion ban.

It’s no accident that no matter the growing number of other Republicans vying for the nomination, the leading candidates are from Florida. Under DeSantis, the state has become the national poster child for all that’s wrong with today’s GOP.

For one, it’s no longer the small-government party.

It’s the party that dictates what medical decisions a family can make about basic reproductive health and the well-being of trans and gay children. Obstetrics and pediatrics may be fields that require extensive expertise, but in Florida, debunked science and religion are the basis for restrictive medical legislation.

Will the nation stand for Republicans imposing whom you’re allowed to be and to love? Exerting cruel and life-threatening influence over what happens under the sheets and to the parent-child relationship is as intrusive as it gets.

Where Trump and DeSantis stoke their brand of “anti-woke” hate and division — turning once laid-back Florida into a boiling pot of unhappy people who don’t get along — Biden deliberately prioritizes inclusion and still seeks bipartisanship against the odds.

Where Trump and DeSantis — mentor and disciple gone rogue — are both vindictive politicians, Biden has delivered billions in federal dollars to the same Florida that shunned him at the ballot box . He visited during the Hurricane Ian and Surfside condo collapse disasters to genuinely interact with victims and first responders.

In fact, whether for disaster relief, infrastructure projects or post-pandemic economic recovery, Biden delivered resources that Republican elected officials — including DeSantis and members of Congress who voted against those Biden initiatives — have claimed as victories for themselves.

Just imagine DeSantis — on a crusade to destroy the Disney Company for the mere crime of having a different opinion from him on one LGBTQ issue — operating this way from the White House. Scary, dangerous.

In lockstep

To Floridians who support them, Trump and DeSantis may be demigods and Biden the devil himself — but both are disastrous national figures.

The president who almost stole American democracy — a New Yorker despite the glow of his Sunshine State lair, Mar-a-lago — doesn’t deserve another shot. And DeSantis is an unsophisticated North Floridian, despite the geographical influences he claims in his book to give himself national scope and the foreign travels he’s on this week.

Then, there’s Biden, who looks pretty darn quixotic and hip telling the nation that he’s not too old for this.

“Let’s finish the job,” he said Tuesday.

I, too, thought he might be too old. Now, I say, Party on, chief.

Biden can win again without Florida.

The only thing the state has going for it are retrograde policies harking back to the segregated 1950s and politicians blatantly sidelining science, democracy and diverse constituencies because they think it’s the winning ticket.

Biden is counting on the saner, silent, savvier side of America to prevail.

As for his age, I’ll have whatever Joe is taking to stay trim, fit and energetic, please.