I hope Joe Biden runs for President.
It is likely he will not, and no one would blame him for wanting to eschew the rigors of a campaign. The recent lost of his son may have convinced him to just finish out his term as VP, and spend his remaining years enjoying his family.
However, I hope Joe Biden runs for president, because I am reminded of what President Obama recently said about his late son Beau during a tearful eulogy. "Beau Biden was an original. He was a good man. A man of character." I think the apple didn't fall far from the tree in this case. I think the country needs Joe Biden -- his straightforwardness and the wisdom that comes from years of public service.
What is also significant to me is that his son Beau volunteered to serve in Iraq. Joe Biden, like many military families, understands what it means to have a child in a war zone.
My desire for a Biden presidential run didn't just start recently. I remember last year discussing the upcoming 2016 election with friends who had worked on the Obama campaigns with me. We discussed the dearth of candidates we could get excited about. These were people who put in "blood, sweat, and tears" to build the momentum and get out the vote for Obama. Our contingent in Riverside County, Calif., included suburban moms, African-American and Latino single women, high school and college students, LGBT activists, and many, such as myself, who had never before been involved in a campaign.
A few months ago, as we again surveyed the landscape for 2016, some of us decided that only Joe Biden could appeal to this contingent. We felt that he would run on enhancing the president's agenda, not throwing it away. We also believe he can get out the minority vote in a way others cannot. (Personally, I also took a look at Jim Webb, but he doesn't seem to have momentum and isn't as well-known or well-liked as Biden. Others are embracing the Democratic front-runner.)
Nevertheless, for those of us who support a Biden candidacy, there are concerns. Namely, that in spite of his outstanding public record in support of women, workers and American families, and his extensive foreign policy experience -- many seem ready to dismiss Joe Biden as a lightweight. His so-called gaffes are brought up often and some in the GOP have started referring to him as a joke. (Ted Cruz even joked about him as he prepared to bury Beau.) I think this characterization of Biden is partially because many potential opponents know he is indeed a contender.
Last fall, an article was written by Steven Kurlander titled, "Even With 'Gaffes,' Biden Building Momentum for Democratic Nomination in 2016." Kurlander stated:
The criticism of Biden appears to be an attempt to weaken his credentials as one of the only competent members of the Obama administration's foreign affairs inner circle. It also appears to be an effort to lessen his viability as a serious candidate for president in 2016.
No matter how politically incorrect Biden -- the working class Joe from Scranton, Pa. -- has been, his mouth, in fact, is his strongest tie to the average American, who can relate not only to what he says, but to how he says it.
If you follow Vice President Joe Biden, you know he has a reputation for being politically incorrect and too blunt.
To that I say: I agree, but if his heart is in the right place, is that such a bad thing? Does he understand and can he empathize with the plight of today's struggling middle and working class families?
Biden's personal life offers us a glimpse into the heart of this man. We know about the tragedy of him losing a wife and child at the very beginning of his Senate career, and his close relationship with his remaining children. We know about the family he built with Jill. Dedication to family defines him.
Another question is -- is he genuine?
It's not easy being genuine in the political world, especially for politicians of Biden's stature. Every action, every event -- no matter how personal, is placed before the camera and becomes bait for discussion. I don't know Joe Biden, have never met him. Like many Americans I did watch the services for his son. We saw true emotions from this Dad. This wasn't a "be strong for the camera" event.
And that is what we like about Biden. Even with the gaffes, you get the feeling he is the real deal. Not a lot of pretenses or poll driven reactions.
Biden gave the following advice as he delivered a Yale commencement speech a few weeks ago:
Don't forget about what doesn't come from this prestigious diploma -- the heart to know what's meaningful and what's ephemeral; and the head to know the difference between knowledge and judgment.
He also added:
Resist the temptation of your generation to let "network" become a verb that saps the personal away, that blinds you to the person right in front of you, blinds you to their hopes, their fears, and their burdens.
"He gets it!" I thought. Here is someone who can truly represent the middle class. It has nothing to do with what your net worth is, it's where your heart is. Biden's heart is in the right place, showing empathy with the everyday American.
Biden is beloved by many segments of the populace, including the youth. He may not have the Bernie Sanders effect that some of our young people are embracing, but Biden can actually win over middle America. Even the most fervent Sanders supporters doubt his ability to win the election.
My 16 year old daughter, who will be voting for the first time in the upcoming presidential election, had this to say on why she would vote for Joe Biden, "I feel like he's on Obama's level of chill."
Okay, so like much of what she says I have no idea what "level of chill" means, but I do believe Biden can get the youth and the college-age vote.
And the Black vote. Joe Biden's closeness to Obama endears him to many. For the most part, he is one of the few DC-insiders who has always given Barack Obama respect -- as President and as a man. Biden comes across as the friend you want standing beside you. He won't change with the wind.
And what about Hillary Clinton? Well, I think she would be an excellent Vice President, providing leadership and strength to a Biden administration.
The Obama election represented "hope and change" as its winning theme. A Biden campaign would hopefully be about unity. We are all tired of the divisiveness. The us versus them; rich versus poor; black versus white; red versus blue; female versus male landscape we are now in. This is what Barack Obama alluded to in that famous speech at the Democratic convention that got so many Americans excited about him as a possible presidential candidate. The work continues. I believe the country is ready to unite as Americans and move forward.
Again, no one could blame Joe Biden if he decides to skip the race. But I think, at this time, America needs a guy like him for President. I sure hope he runs.
So much of life is about timing, and this is also true in politics.
It's Biden time.