Biden’s Fall Reminds Us of What’s Missing from Our Political Representation


On Friday, March 19, President Biden fell a notable three times while walking up the steps of Air Force One. (Courtesy of Twitter)

On Friday, March 19, President Biden fell not once, not twice, but a notable three times while walking up the steps of Air Force One. The president’s infamous jog was not enough to keep him grounded this time. 

Biden quickly brushed off the accident, making it to the top of the stairs and offering a salute before disappearing into the aircraft. 

While it might seem like a lighthearted story at first glance, Biden’s fall should prompt Americans to confront just how often we are forced to question the health of our leaders. The president’s fall should serve as a reminder of just how heavily our political representation is lacking. 

Immediately after the fall, action was taken to assure the public that the stumble was not serious. White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield tweeted out that the president “did not even require any attention from the medical team who travels with him.” 

Nonetheless, questions and concerns over Biden’s health have spread like wildfire, with media sources and publications across the country picking up the story. 

Many have ventured to compare the recent incident with concerns over the health of former President Trump, specifically after he was seen struggling to walk down a ramp at West Point. Trump was quick to defend himself, explaining that the slip was not a reflection of his health but rather a result of leather-soled shoes on a sunny summer day. 

At the time, Biden eagerly clung to the humorous footage — which was picked up and mocked by multiple late-night television hosts. Biden turned to the American people, saying, “Watch how I run up ramps and he stumbles down ramps. OK? Come on.” The comeback is certainly ironic now after Biden has had his own tumble in the public eye.

Additionally, the summer before the 2020 election, there were calls for Biden to release the results of his cognitive tests. Some citizens are concerned about Biden’s mental health after he mistakenly referred to Vice President Kamala Harris as “President Harris.” Others have been concerned that the president delayed holding a press conference until recently. 

However, health concerns are not unique to Biden. There are plenty of articles online that questioned Trump’s fitness to serve as president. For example, in June of 2020, media sources raised questions about Trump’s health after he struggled to sip from a glass of water while giving a graduation speech. 

Various news outlets have been concerned with proving the unfairness and injustice of the situation, complaining that Biden is not being criticized for his stumble in the same manner that Trump once was. Others are arguing over whether or not Biden’s fall should be taken as a reflection of his health or a mere accident. In the grand scheme of things, neither of these questions is truly that important. 

What’s more important? The fact that American citizens have become so accustomed to having to worry about the mental and physical capacities of their leader. Their commander-in-chief. Their president. 

Biden’s fall has made headlines, just as Trump’s once did, but it’s making headlines for the wrong reasons. 

At the time of Trump’s presidency, he was the second oldest president in American history. In January 2021, at the end of his presidency, Trump was 74 years old. 

Biden has already beat him out. Sworn into office at 78 years old, Biden is the oldest president in American history. 

I don’t want to be ageist, but I do want to be frank. We live in a society that prides itself on fighting for diversity and inclusivity, especially amongst younger generations that are reaching voting age. Biden himself made a promise to have the most diverse Cabinet in the White House yet. The year is 2021, and we currently have the oldest president in all of American history in office. 

Biden is an older, white, cis-gendered millionaire man. While these traits should not discredit his abilities and qualifications, they do seem out of place. The same goes for Trump. How is it that these two men, who embody all of the traits that people are so tired of seeing in positions of power, made it to the presidency at a time when society is arguably the most progressive it has ever been? Why is it that generations who fight tirelessly for change and equality are still unable to be represented by their leaders? 

There has been noticeable progress; this is undeniable. There was much more diversity amongst the Democratic candidates for the 2020 election. There were more women candidates. There was more minority representation and representation of different sexual orientations. But they didn’t make it to the presidency. Biden did. And Trump did, before him. 

Kamala Harris is the first woman and woman of color to serve as vice president, and this is a feat that should be celebrated and appreciated. I don’t want to discredit this progress at all. It is great to see and surely inspiring for the younger generation of girls growing up in today’s society. 

But there’s more to be done. I want to see a woman president in my lifetime. Even more than that, I want the idea of a woman president to no longer be an outlandish notion. 

For those who say that change doesn’t happen overnight, I understand their sentiments, but I don’t understand the attitude of complacency that is encouraged alongside it. After all, it has not been “overnight.” It has been years and decades and centuries of generations perpetuating this idea of complacency. 

I’m not saying that Biden or Trump’s fitness to be president should be based solely on their ages. I’m saying that I want our values and priorities to be represented in our leaders. 

I love my grandparents, and I’m sure most of you can agree that you love yours as well. But I don’t want a leader that reminds me of them. The American people are desperate for a leader that resembles them, and rightly so. It’s been long enough. 

Taylor Herzlich, FCRH ’23, is a journalism major from Mt. Sinai, N.Y.