LOGANSPORT – “What Might Have Been” is the title of a great slow dance song by the group “Little Texas.” It’s also the thought many Democrats across the country may be uttering in hindsight right now, and in the coming months and years.

Flash back to 2008 and that summer day when then Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois chose between Joe Biden and Evan Bayh as his running mate. Bayh had been there before as a potential running mate for Al Gore. Biden’s age was not thought to be an issue then. Had he run in 2016 after Obama’s two terms, this would be his second term and the end of his career would be 2024. Instead, at age 79 he’s looking at a second term run that would make him 85 at the end of a second term.

Had Obama chosen Bayh, he too might have been finishing his second term, but if he hadn’t run for president in 2016 or been defeated, he might have been the Democrat who cleared the field in 2020 instead of Biden. Today, he is 66 – 13 years younger than Biden.

It’s unlikely that he would run for president, but had Bayh been Obama’s vice president, his impact on Indiana down ticket would have been stronger and Democrats nationwide would not be looking over their shoulders wondering if they should be lining up behind other Democrats as 2024 approaches.

With Biden’s approval at 39%, it’s unclear what “the other hand” is for Democrats if Biden doesn’t run, or if the party doesn’t support him. Bernie Sanders? Amy Klobuchar? Kamala Harris? Pete Buttiegieg? All possibilities, but none with a clear-cut path.

Yet if Biden does not run, it’s entirely possible the 2024 ticket will have two of the four names I just mentioned. Another potential hat in the ring is that of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who was on the short list for vice president in 2020.

Since the Watergate break-in 50 years ago this month, the phrase “hindsight has 20/20 vision” made famous in the Watergate hearings has been appropriate for a variety of situations. In this one, the same is true. 

Amazingly, it was a young Bayh who once was a guest in Harry Truman’s home in Independence, Mo. Truman  was the vice presidential candidate few noticed when FDR ran in 1944, and Truman was an unlikely focal point because he was simply an old haberdasher who had lost a race before being elected to the Senate. But the decision changed the ticket and ultimately led to the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima and the Korean Conflict.

While Americans are living longer and presidents such as Reagan, Trump and Biden are among the oldest we’ve ever had, future party nominees from both sides of the aisle have to give some forethought to not only balancing a ticket politically and geographically but the future of their parties. 

Kitchell is the former mayor of Logansport.