A presidential election that has driven a nation to drink is fought to the end by two men who don’t.
For the first time in modern history, the two main party candidates for the White House are teetotalers. President Trump and his Democratic opponent Joseph R. Biden Jr. have not had alcoholic beverages in their lives, according to their own accounts.
This Teetotaler campaign, and the fact that this circumstance has received so little attention, is to some extent proof of how the once arduous political culture is changing. Candidates, campaign assistants and journalists drink less, aware of the scrutiny that comes in the age of cellphones and Twitter, not to mention the relentless demands of a 24-hour campaign.
But it also depends on how Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump, for all their stark differences, share certain similarities in character and background, according to biographers and others who have observed them over the years. They all grew up in families darkened by the specter of alcoholism – Mr. Trump’s brother died of it and one of Mr. Biden’s favorite uncles, whom he lived with growing up, was a heavy drinker.
Both have distanced themselves from the watered-down social circuits of Washington and New York, Mr. Biden because he drove home with his family in Delaware every night and Mr. Trump because he tends to be more remote. comfortable at home watching television.
But more than anything, it speaks to the nature of two fiercely ambitious men and their calculation that alcohol would put them at a disadvantage, whether in the world of politics or in the development of New York City, or in the management of a casino.
“These are two intensely competitive men who felt early in their careers that their path to success was going to be willing to take the positions they wanted,” said Evan Osnos, author of a Mr. Biden biography. which has just been completed. “It didn’t leave much room to get drunk.