Op-Ed | Succession is not just a hit TV series

President Joe Biden announces deadly drone strike on U.S. soldiers in Jordan
President Joe Biden speaks at St. John Baptist Church in Columbia, S.C., on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

I am the founder of a publishing  company that I sold 3.5 years ago to a larger media and information corporation — but I have stayed on to help grow my division’s footprint in New York and other parts of the country.

I recently turned 62 and have been dealing with a chronic autoimmune disease that has been manageable but has made me ponder my mortality and waning endurance.

In the past two years, I have been obsessed with figuring out a succession plan and finding a talented successor for my eventual retirement — something I contemplate happening before I’m 65, in other words, in less than three years.

The best thing aging Americans in authority can do is mentor their successors and exit stage left while the audience is still watching the show.

Millions of Americans watched the hit series, “Succession,” about a egomaniacal media patriarch who couldn’t decide which of his flawed children should fill his shoes. He ended up damaging each of them while ultimately none of them ended up ascending to the throne in the final episode. Instead, a bumbling and foolish relative took over and the viewer was left to ponder the slow unraveling of a once-great media empire under incompetent leadership.

Joe Biden, like many American presidents before him, has not thought enough about a succession plan. In 2020, he picked Kamala Harris to be his running mate, a shrewd political move, and perhaps a farsighted decision to assure strong leadership of the free world.

I like Harris, and like many Americans I feel she’d make a better Democratic nominee than Biden. But apparently the rapidly aging — almost infirm — incumbent doesn’t have enough faith in his hand-picked successor to hand over the reins of the Democratic Party to her.

“I’m the most qualified person to beat Donald Trump and I know how to get things done,” Biden said, defensively and in a wan voice, to interlocutor George Stephanopolis, in a widely anticipated interview last Friday night.

The fact is, Joe Biden was really elected as a transition president, a stopgap to his dangerous and incompetent predecessor, but a bridge to a new generation of Democratic leadership.

He should have realized this four summers ago in 2020, when he was the overripe age of 77, and chose Harris to be his successor in case he passed away or became incapacitated.

We have now reached the moment where Biden is on the precipice of incapacity — his more frequent mental lapses in public (and in front of 40 million debate viewers) and reports from insiders that he’s only mentally sharp six hours a day, are the warning signs that we are on the verge of a 25th Amendment Constitutional crisis.

Joe Biden has been a successful public servant for almost six decades and he has done a great service to our country — to our world — in beating Donald Trump in 2020.

But like any smart and forward thinking leader he needs to realize now that it’s time to empower his choice for the future — Kamala Harris — and get squarely behind her for the next four months to ensure her victory and four more years of Democratic rule of our fragile nation.

Succession planning is an under appreciated concept. Like me (at only 62), the president (at almost two decades older), should be obsessed with mentoring his successor.

Our country, our allies, and the whole globe are depending on him to realize this important executive responsibility.

It’s time for the next generation to shine. Let former prosecutor and Senator Kamala Harris take on Donald Trump and make a strong case for her party and her generation to take our country forward.

Tom Allon is the founder of City & State and the 5Boro Institute. He was a candidate for NYC Mayor in 2013.