Biden’s Stutter and the Misjudgements Surrounding It


President-Elect Joe Biden speaking at one of the Presidential Debates.

Emma Hall, Editor-in-Chief

Joe Biden, 2020 US President candidate, and former Vice President to Barack Obama, is well known to have a speech impediment, more specifically, a stutter. While his opposers have long been using this as proof of his lack of intelligence, it could be a sliver of hope for others with speech disorders, who are rarely seen in offices of power. 


Biden has struggled with a stutter since boyhood, earning him ridicule in grade school, mockery by the nuns he was taught by, and earned him the nickname “Dash” in high school to represent the implied dashes between all of his stuttering. 


Although his stutter is not quite as bad as it was in his previous years, it still comes out occasionally in his debates. “I haven’t stuttered in so long, it’s hard to remember. What I do remember is the feeling,” Biden confides. 


And it’s not surprising that glimpses of Biden’s stutter have peaked out from under his well-practiced speaking voice. Stuttering is known to get worse when one is pressured or hurried, which is usually the climate of the press Biden takes part in. 


Senior Megan Schulien, someone who struggles with a speech impediment herself, confides that the hardest part about having a stutter is other’s perceptions of you. “People are oblivious to the fact that it even exists, so when you go to have a normal conversation with someone, they’ll mock you or poke fun at it.” Due to this lack of knowledge surrounding the disability, people don’t know the harm that mockery can do.


Think of it this way: if you’re insecure of something already, and then someone points it out and makes fun of it, it’s natural to overthink it from that point on. And overthinking is a stutterer’s worst nightmare, seeing as it often causes the stutter to get worse. 


Biden, despite all of the public speaking and debates he’s tackled throughout his lifetime, has now made it to become the next President of the United States. “It’s reassuring to see someone with this disability come so far,” Schulien explains. “It gives me faith that someday people won’t see it as a big deal.”


Throughout the 2020 election, Biden has been described as ‘blundering’, ‘stuttering’, ‘can’t even form a full sentence’, ‘idiot’, and more by his nonsupporters. Are these proper judgements of Biden? Are these statements based on his ideas or the way he says his ideas?


“It does bother me when people doubt his intelligence because of his stutter and nothing else besides how he speaks,” Schulien admits. A speech impediment is no indicator to someone’s mind, and it would be ableist to think so. 


Overall, while the whole process of the 2020 Presidential Election can be described easily as a fiasco, one positive result taken from it, is that Biden is serving as a ray of light to those with speech impediments by giving them an example of someone who accomplished so much despite it.