Given the events of the past four years, many, many Americans are ready for a change in the White House. But while those weary of the endless noise, nonsense and corruption might be ready to vote for anybody to be rid of President Donald Trump, there is far more to recommend Joe Biden as the nation’s next president.
Biden is experienced in every facet of government, for decades a lawmaker universally respected for his knowledge of foreign policy. So much so, in fact, that it was among the primary reasons the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was chosen to run with relatively inexperienced Barack Obama in 2008. One would have to be completely isolated not to comprehend the steep decline in respect among the rest of world for U.S. policy and leadership the Trump administration has engendered in just a few years. Refusing to adhere to longstanding agreements; pulling out of military engagements, leaving allies overwhelmed; insulting respected world leaders at every turn, and, most tellingly, not even bothering to fill a large percentage of State Department posts, in a signal that we won’t be wasting time on diplomacy.
Biden is almost uniquely positioned to restore our international reputation. In addition to his broad experience and reputation as a thoughtful, serious leader, he’s sent his own son to war; he knows the price American families may pay for the decisions made in Washington to use our military as a tool abroad.
At home, Biden is equally experienced and equally respected for knowing how to get things done in Washington. He was the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman for a dozen years, and led the passage of the Violence Against Women Act. As vice president, he was the point person for policy as the Obama administration worked to counter the recession Obama inherited. Biden oversaw infrastructure spending during the recession, played a major part in the auto industry bailout and helped negotiate major deals with a GOP-led Congress that addressed the debt ceiling and the impending fiscal cliff. He also led Obama’s Gun Violence Task Force. He’s knowledgeable in all aspects of domestic policy. He also recognizes the serious threats to the environment and the earth’s sustainability, while sensibly advocating more measured and realistic steps than those of the Green New Deal. And he was out front of the Obama administration in calling for marriage and sexual-orientation equality for all Americans.
Beyond all that is Biden’s clear empathy. He’s lost his first wife and two of his children, and knows firsthand the importance of affordable health care access from his experiences recovering long ago from two brain aneurysms. When he talks to people on the campaign trail and hears their problems, it’s easy to see his own pain bleeding through as he comforts them. One might do well to look up scenes of Biden, who has long fought to overcome a stutter, encouraging a stuttering New Hampshire boy, in contrast to Trump’s 2016 convention performance, mocking a disabled reporter.
That empathy will be particularly vital in the next few years, as the nation tries to recover from a pandemic that’s been made worse at every turn by the complete lack of empathy from the president, who downplayed the threat for weeks and months to keep the stock market — the only way he measures economic success — rolling, and who has consistently spoken against the measures health experts say will help minimize the pandemic’s effects. We’re still facing many more COVID-19 cases, many more deaths, and continued economic strain ahead. The worst of that economic strain has yet to be felt, and will, as usual, fall hardest upon the most vulnerable among us. This is where having a president capable of empathy, vs. one who is not, will make the biggest difference. And it will be critically important in making long overdue progress in addressing racial and social injustice concerns, the other great issue that’s swept the country this year.
Joe Biden is a smart, capable, experienced leader, respected abroad and by political colleagues of both parties, who can be expected to put the country and its people above his own interests. He is also smart enough to know he doesn’t know everything and to listen to respected medical, scientific and other experts in reaching judgments.
In short, he is everything Trump is not, and everything we need right now.
Maybe to some he isn’t the most exciting choice. We all like new things, new faces, new ideas. Biden isn’t selling revolutionary change, as was Bernie Sanders. That might account for some of the perceived lack of enthusiasm. It was that “let’s see what someone new can do” attitude that, in part, propelled Trump to the White House in 2016.
Now we’ve seen what he can do, and we all know we can surely do better. Our country needs, at this moment, what Joe Biden offers: a steady hand from someone who isn’t in it to make himself richer or more famous and has the temperament to try to serve all Americans, not just those who support him. It’s time to ditch the reality TV star and return America to something more resembling reality.