Joe Biden has finally made it official. He announced Thursday that he is running to be the Democratic nominee for President.
Why does this interest me as a registered Republican (yes, I know, I need therapy) who will not be voting in the Democratic primary?
I care passionately about what happens in the Democratic primary because, before being a Republican or a Democrat, I am an American. I have one goal and only one goal: ousting Donald Trump from the White House.
In the event you have been living on a desert island without WiFi for the last three years, let me fill you in: Donald Trump is intellectually, ethically and morally unfit to be president of the United States. He threatens the fiber and core of American values, embodying exactly the opposite of what makes America great.
I have given up any realistic hope of Donald Trump getting a serious challenge in the Republican primary. He will be the Republican nominee. Also, I have zero expectations that Trump will be impeached.
Make no mistake, regardless of how obnoxious and horrible in every way many Americans find him, Trump will not be easy to beat. He will have a daunting war chest and all the advantages that come with incumbency. He also has the support of a cult-like base who believe he can do no wrong.
I am begging and pleading with Democrats not to screw this up. Please nominate someone who can win, someone that can unite the Democratic base, energize the Obama coalition and not alienate right-leaning independents and Trump-rejecting Republicans (like me).
I know people like me are just a little teeny piece of the formula. But for what it’s worth, I like Joe Biden. In full disclosure, I’ve known the guy for almost 20 years. We have argued. We have hugged. We have laughed. We have cried.
It’s hard to know what to write about Joe Biden that hasn’t already been said before. He’s been around in US politics longer than some of the new freshman Democratic stars in Congress have been alive – as a Delaware senator and then as vice president. We know all about him.
He has suffered and survived unspeakable personal tragedy. His family was in a deadly car accident when Joe had just been elected. He buried his wife and infant daughter and nursed his two little boys back to health. He had to pick himself up from debilitating grief and keep on going.
He faced his own physical challenges. He recovered from brain surgery. And most recently, he again had to confront the worst thing that can happen to any parent – losing a child, his adult son Beau, in 2015.
My parents lived through the same. It takes so much to lift yourself up from your knees after the death of your child. It shakes you to the core. It changes you. You will never be whole again.
I have to believe Joe Biden running for president is about more than ego or lifelong ambition. There has got to be something more – a cause greater than self – driving a 76-year-old man, who will already go down in the annals of American history, who is liked and respected the world over, to throw himself into the gauntlet that is a presidential race.
Some will say his time has passed. He is too old. Well folks, let me state the obvious. Everything in life is relative. Donald Trump ain’t exactly the picture of youth and vigor. Neither is Bernie Sanders. Joe Biden has run in presidential campaigns, depending on how you’re counting, three or four times. He knows the physical toll it takes and he appears ready for it.
Some Democrats will say Biden does not represent today’s Democratic Party. He is not progressive enough; that Biden is not a Democratic Socialist. He is not a Progressive. That is true. But over his career he has shown that he is willing to work across the aisle and find pragmatic solutions. God forbid we actually elect a president who seeks to represent all Americans, not just a small fringe, here and there.
People will find a lot to scrutinize and dislike in Biden’s record. But what some may see as baggage, others will see as experience. He has certainly said and done a lot of things in 50 years that do not pass today’s standards.
His entire career will be up for debate – be it his positions on school busing in the 70’s (he was against it) or his treatment of Anita Hill when he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. And it should be. A presidential race is not bean bag. It’s hardball. He’s going to have to explain some things. He’s going to have to talk about his evolution as a human being and a policy maker. He’s already had a taste of that in recent weeks. More is coming.
The Democratic field looks like a Benetton ad. There’s a smorgasbord of choices in all colors and sizes. White, black, Latino, male, female, young, old, straight, gay, far left, moderate, experienced, political novices, they’re all part of it. Hell, there’s even a vegan. Joe is an older, straight, white, man. Don’t hold it against him. He is not Trump.
Joe Biden might be the respected elder on the stage, but nobody is going to step aside for him. He’s going to have to compete on an even playing field. He cannot take anything or anyone for granted. I’m glad his voice will be part of the debate. The process is going to be lively and interesting.
Joe Biden brings a lot to the table. He is everything Trump is not. He knows policy. He is a uniter. He calls for our better angels. He is empathetic and draws on his own grief to console and encourage others through theirs. He laughs easily. He is decent. He is devoted to his wife, and she is to him. Gold-leaf and wealth do not define him. He is not perfect and he has the humility to accept that.
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Joe Biden is not a shiny new toy. He is not flashy. He is not going to set hearts racing. He is comfortable, knowledgeable, experienced, reliable and dependable. We know what we’re getting with him. He inspires a feeling of trust and confidence.
He is normal.
After the chaos and turmoil of the last three years under Trump, “normal” sounds really good to me.
This commentary has been updated from an earlier version to reflect Joe Biden’s announcement of his candidacy.