“If you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one your with.” — Crosby, Stills, and Nash
As we move further and further into history it seems that we find ourselves voting against someone rather than voting for his or her opponent. This is certainly true for a majority of Americans that plan to pull the proverbial lever for Joe Biden. I suppose it could also be true for those that are voting for Donald Trump as well.
I’ve already made my feelings on Trump known, so I thought I would take a few minutes to talk about why I’m voting for Biden. Generally speaking, it is a dangerous thing when you can’t find reasons to vote for someone. It’s how we find ourselves in situations we desperately want to get out of.
I’ve heard of elections being described as taking a bus where some people think of it as waiting for Mr. and Ms. Right. The bus may never take you exactly where you want to go, but you elect to take the bus that takes you closest to where you want to go. Joe Biden was not my first choice in the Democratic field. Heck, he wasn’t my second choice. However, he is infinitely better in any number of ways to the alternative.
The number one quality he brings to the country is a remarkable sense of empathy. This is an area where he is superior to even Barack Obama. He has suffered loss in his life. He knows what that feels like and he has a genuine sense of connection with those that have also felt loss. I can’t think of a better quality to have in this immediate moment of our nation’s history.
Sure, there are those that have died due to the virus, but it goes beyond that. We are collectively mourning the loss of decency, the loss of compassion, and the seeming rise of hatred. We are mourning our divisions whether they be political, racial, gender, or cultural. When a country is mourning, you want someone that knows not only how to mourn, but how to recover from mourning.
When he was vice president, Biden was placed in charge of H1N1 and Ebola in a similar way as Mike Pence being in charge of the COVID-19 pandemic response. It’s funny how the criticism came at the beginning when people hooted and hollered about the numbers that died in the H1N1 epidemic. Those shouts turned to whispers and then faded away. The numbers pale in comparison.
More important than the numbers was the quick response. He didn’t deny its existence or claim it was a hoax manufactured by the producers of the flip phone. Notice also how many deaths we saw in the ebola pandemic that came years later. That’s right, very few. See, that’s what happens when someone is paying attention. They improve. They get better. They don’t repeat the same mistakes as they did before.
That’s one of the more hilarious points made from those on the right. They say Biden wouldn’t have done any better with the virus. Well, they already had a response team up and running in the White House, had monitors around the world including China, and had already dealt with two pandemics. Of course they would have done better. One of my cats could have done better, but that’s not the point.
The point is that the main thing that Biden will bring to the table is experience. Sure, you can laugh at the 40+ years he’s been in politics, but that comes with practical experience. There are the big decisions that have to be made. What legislation are you going to push? What do you do in an international crisis? When natural disaster strikes how do you handle it? When national tragedy happens what do you say? Those are the big moments.
Life is made up of hundreds of smaller moments. These are the ones most of us don’t hear about. They happen in our daily lives at home and at work and most of us don’t give them a second thought after they are over. This is especially true when we have the experience to handle them. These are the moments that we’ve heard about every day for three and a half years. They are crises that seem to be invented out of thin air.
Comedian Jon Stewart was being interviewed by an English reporter when he said something profound. The presidency is supposed to age the president. Every president has left office with less hair and a higher percentage of gray hair than he entered. This presidency has aged us. We’ve spent more time worrying over small stuff because we have to sweat all of the small stuff. That’s certainly a style and philosophy choice, but it is also a choice built on competence (or lack thereof). Every presidency in recent times has hinged on not only the mental acuity of the president, but the competence of who the president surrounds himself with.
Make fun of Biden all you want. Yes, he has a stuttering problem. Yes, he occasionally fumbles his words and may forget occasional details. Those day to day details don’t rely on his ability to make a stirring speech. They rely on his ability to select people that can do the job. You don’t hire a Christian fanatic with no public school experience to be the head of the Department of Education. You don’t hire a surgeon to be the head of HUD. You don’t hire your son in law to be in charge of everything else. You hire smart people that have done it before.
Finally, we do have to highlight foreign policy experience. In addition to his eight years as vice president, he spent a great many years on the foreign relations committee in the Senate. People made fun of Obama for going on an “apology tour”. Well, why do you think we were apologizing? We need someone that can repair our alliances and send a strong signal to our enemies that they are indeed our enemies. The time for bromances with dictators is over.
So, I may have wanted someone younger to be the nominee. I may have wanted someone with some different ideas than some of the ones we have. That’s life. Focusing on that fails to recognize the numerous positive traits that Biden brings to the table.