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Opinion: Trudeau, Biden both endangering their parties by overstaying their welcome

Leaders have gone beyond their best-before dates
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden appear to be leaning on their gut instincts rather than the evidence, writes Kirk LaPointe.

I don’t believe that 50 per cent of life is knowing when to show up, because 80 per cent is knowing when to leave.

We can see the consequences of indecision and resistance on both sides of the border today in two national leaders who fail to recognize they are far past their best-before dates. Their well-worn streaks of stubbornness prevail in subduing self-doubt and stoking self-confidence that tell themselves, one more time, their next elections can be won – no matter what public opinion is at the moment.

We can also see how they have each turned to their gut instincts, rather than data’s cerebral evidence, upon which to decide to run or relinquish. Their aides and allies have failed them as true friends by either avoiding or downplaying what the general public considered some time ago the dead-obvious reality – that it was time to go.

The result is that both U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are taking their parties to defeat in petulant fits of pique, clutching power but missing a crucial point in public service – that it must also be of service to their parties’ effectiveness as institutions within democracy.

Biden will wound the Democrats if he does not heed the lesson from his awful night in Atlanta, 90 minutes that made him look over 90, and step aside in time to choose a successor for November’s presidential election. Donald Trump may rupture the fact-checking machine, but as we all know, ageism is the last acceptable form of prejudice, and Biden seemed much more than three years Trump’s senior.

Still, the loudening chorus of concern within Biden’s party – that the president is enfeebled and will only further deteriorate – brings some hope that he might see the light.

Trudeau has more time to decide, but not much more, to offer plausible hope to the Liberals to avoid decimation in the 2025 autumn election. Where Biden’s Democrat detractors are anonymous, for the time being anyway, Trudeau’s Liberal critics are publicly surfacing. The party is so mixed up, it is stabbing him in the front.

Still, the cancellation of the annual prime ministerial ritual to visit the Calgary Stampede suggests he’s starting to apprehend the beginning of the end.

In both cases, I’d bet (with odds, mind you) both will be gone by month’s end.

But even if they leave, neither would depart in an optimal way.

Being pressured to go means neither can be celebrated as they go for their accomplishments, and each has legitimate claims of political achievement in the pandemic, before and since. Unfortunately, they stand to be remembered for staying too long and for the mistakes that kept them from sustained popularity.

Pushing them out would also reveal how little they and their parties thought about and acted upon succession – how the Democrats have Vice-President Kamala Harris as a first option who Biden did not use his administration’s platform to properly stage, yet how the Liberals have no one on Trudeau’s team as a legitimate competitor to the Conservative’s Pierre Poilievre. It leaves Liberals to find someone, possibly an outsider like Mark Carney, the former Bank of sa国际传媒 and Bank of England governor.

Biden clearly possesses passion for his job, but every other serious factor in his leadership – public opinion, salesmanship and personal health, to name three – are anchors on the boat as he tries to water ski.

Trudeau’s passion is no less difficult to detect, but the poll numbers have been clear for nearly as long as Poilievre’s leadership. If they inch even further against the Liberals, Trudeau’s party risks the fate approaching that of the 1993 Conservatives under Kim Campbell. She, too, knows well the danger of lingering, as Brian Mulroney did to leave her nothing but ruins.

But it is worth asking: Why would anyone want to take the reins so late in the election cycle? Why become the short-term loser and likely short-term leader? Why agree to wear the errors of the predecessor when there is not time to effect changes in policies and culture to enhance electability? Why would anyone believe it is possible to win on such short notice?

It is true that North America, even the wider world (save the U.K.), is undergoing a shift to the right. Who would have thought, though, that victory would be so easily enabled by the opponents’ obstinate overstays?

Kirk LaPointe is a Glacier Media columnist with an extensive background in journalism.