Many Democrats have complained that the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg hung on to her position on the Supreme Court for far too long, even when it was clear that her health was failing. She had battled cancer for years, and some voices in the Democratic Party had called on her to retire from the Court when former President Barack Obama was in office. That would have allowed him to pick another Democrat to replace her. Justice Ginsburg’s death in September 2020, at age 87, paved the way for then President Donald Trump to appoint Justice Amy Coney Barrett, giving Republicans their current 6-3 supermajority.

To avoid a repeat of that scenario, Democrats began to pile pressure on Justice Stephen Breyer, the oldest liberal justice, to retire during President Biden’s first term to facilitate the appointment of a Democratic replacement to the Court. Justice Breyer was around 82 years old at the time. Unlike Justice Ginsburg, he had no known health problems, but the main fear among Democrats was that given his advanced age, his eventual retirement could come during a Republican presidency, if Biden were to lose reelection. Justice Breyer heeded those calls and vacated his seat at the end of the Court’s term in June 2022. President Biden subsequently appointed Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to replace him.

From all indications, Justice Breyer had not contemplated retirement. But he gave way because he understood what was at stake. If he stayed, and somehow those Democrats’ fears were realized, the Republican supermajority would become even more lopsided at 7-2. That is something that, given how Supreme Court appointments work, would take several decades, if not nearly a century, to reverse. He did not want to risk carrying the burden of being the person who allowed that to happen.

President Biden is facing that dilemma today. Following his disastrous debate performance a couple of weeks ago, the calls have grown louder for him to exit the presidential race. Unlike Justice Breyer, he insists that he will not step aside. As he thinks about his next moves in the coming days, the question he needs to ask himself is this: Does he want to be forever known as the person who allowed a second Trump presidency?

Even before the debate, polls had consistently shown a tight race with a reasonably high probability of a Trump win. So, a Biden loss was already quite possible, regardless of his debate performance. But what is absolutely certain is that if he stays in the race and loses, his entire political legacy would be defined by it.

There is fierce debate currently within the Democratic Party about whether it is wise to switch horses so late in the race. Some people say that the process would be too disruptive and make a Trump victory even more likely. It doesn’t have to be. If President Biden decided to make a graceful exit, as Justice Breyer did, a new nominee could emerge relatively quickly. Of course, the unpredictability of politics doesn’t guarantee such an outcome, but the onus would be on those vying for the top spot to demonstrate that they indeed put the interest of the country above the personal. They cannot accuse Trump of being self-centered and then be seen behaving exactly like him.

Biden’s claim that he is the only person in the Democratic Party who can beat Trump is quite problematic. It does not inspire confidence in the party. As its leader, and especially given his advanced age, it has been his responsibility all along to make sure that there is a deep bench to pick from in case it became impossible for him to captain the ship. His assertion should be seen as an admission of failure on the succession issue.

The harsh reality of life is that people age differently. Even at 82, Justice Breyer looked physically strong and mentally sharp. He is now 85, and still does. Warren Buffett, who runs one of the largest business conglomerates in the world, is almost 94 years old but he looks like the Energizer Bunny. His mental acuity is second to none. The same cannot be said of President Biden. He has the most stressful job in the world, and the wear and tear associated with it has taken a heavy toll on him. Good leaders know when it is time to exit the stage and hand the torch to the next generation. If I were in his shoes, I would bow out gracefully.