Former President Barack Obama leads with those four words as he delves into his endorsement of Joe Biden. Obama’s ever charismatic and hopeful demeanor is laced with pain. Not surprisingly, his words are crisp and logical, but there is something refreshing about seeing a public official speak with simultaneous conviction and grace.
There is no need to sugar coat this. We were waiting for the moment when Obama would endorse Biden, yet we knew it wouldn’t come until Obama had no other choice. There are a multitude of reasons why Biden may not be the best candidate for president in the history of presidential candidates, but that’s not the point of this election. Obama understands this. The democratic party must unite to understand this too.
But if there is one thing we have learned as a country from moments of great crisis, it is that the spirit of looking out for one another can’t be restricted to our homes, or our workplaces, or our neighborhoods, or our houses of worship. It also has to be reflected in our national government. The kind of leadership that is guided by knowledge and experience, honesty and humility, empathy and grace.
Translation: We deserve someone in the White House who serves with humility, grace, and experience. Notice how I didn’t say that Biden possesses these qualities. I won’t let you know if I think that or not. But I can definitively tell you that those qualities are not currently in our White House.
Choosing Joe to be my vice president was one of the best decisions I ever made, and he became a close friend, and I believe Joe has all of the qualities we need in a president right now.
Translation: Right now. Key phrase. I’m not telling you what I think are his overall qualities, but I know that right now we need anybody but Trump. All those qualities can be seen in the only worthwhile person who is running that isn’t Trump — Joe Biden.
When Joe talks with parents who have lost their jobs, we hear the son of a man who once knew the pain of having to tell his children that he had lost his. When Joe talks about opportunity for our kids, we hear the young father who took the train home each night so he could tuck his children into bed, and we hear the influence of Jill, a lifelong teacher. When Joe talks to families who have lost a hero, we hear another parent of an American veteran, a kindred spirit, somebody whose faith has endured the hardest loss there is. That is Joe. Through all of his trials, he’s never once forgotten the values or the moral fiber that his parents passed on to him, and that made him who he is. That is what steels his faith in God and America and in all of us. That steel made him an incredible partner when I needed one the most. Joe was there as we rebuilt from the great recession and rescued the American auto industry. He was the one asking what every policy would do for the middle class and everyone striving to get into the middle class. That is why I asked him to implement the Recovery Act, which saved millions of jobs and that people back on their feet because Joe gets stuff done. Joe helped me manage H1N1 and prevent the Ebola epidemic from becoming the type of pandemic we are seeing now. He helped me restore America’s standing and leadership in the world on the other threats of our time like nuclear proliferation and climate change.
Translation: A long list of platitudes — examples that can give some credibility to my endorsement, and part of the only minute or so of qualifications I will share about Joe Biden.
Joe has the character and the experience to guide us through one of our darkest times and heal us through a long recovery, and I know he will surround himself with good people experts, scientists, military officials who actually know how to run the government and care about doing a good job running the government and know how to work with our allies and who will always put the American people’s interests above their own.
Translation: We must vote for Joe, not for Joe himself, but for the intelligent and knowledgeable people that understand how to successfully run a government. Biden will inevitably surround himself with those people. We need a leader who won’t cut funding to organizations such as WHO in a time of a health pandemic. We want someone in the White House who will listen to people like Dr. Fauci. In addition to Trump’s latest claim, we have seen throughout the past three and some years how this current administration is run. The president believes he is the ultimate authority on American policy, and he chooses to surround himself with people who continue to shape policy around that belief. The only way we can go back to our proper system of checks and balances is if we vote for Joe Biden.
Bernie is an American original, a man who has devoted his life to giving voice to working people’s hopes, dreams, and frustrations. He and I haven’t always agreed on everything, but we have always shared a conviction that we have to make America a fairer more just, more equitable society. We both know that nothing is more powerful than millions of voices calling for change and the ideas he has championed, the energy and enthusiasm he inspired especially in young people will be critical in moving America in a direction of progress and hope because for the second time in 12 years we will have the incredible task of rebuilding our economy and to meet the moment the Democratic Party will have to be bold.
Translation: This endorsement is for those who are too prideful to release their support for Bernie Sanders. So prideful that they are willing to not vote, write in, or vote third party in order to stand by their convictions. But now is not the time for pride in the individual — we need to vote for the community. Joe Biden is the best option for us right now. We all know the laundry list of faults that Biden has racked up throughout the years, but that list is nothing in comparison to the pain and suffering that has been caused by the Trump administration. This endorsement is less about Joe Biden than it is about me pleading with young voters to put aside their pride for Bernie Sanders and to vote blue. We all must come together and vote for Biden, whether Biden was our last choice or even our second last choice. I am going to beg as eloquently possible — I implore you to please, please vote for Biden.
We have to return the U.S. to the Paris Agreement and lead the world in reducing the pollution that causes climate change, but science tells us we have to go much further and it is time for us to accelerate progress on bold new green initiatives that make our economy a clean energy innovator, save us money and secure our children’s future. Of course, Democrats may not always agree on every detail of the best way to bring about each and every one of these changes, but we do agree that they are needed and that only happens if we win this election because one thing everybody has learned by now is that the Republicans occupying the White House and running the U.S. Senate are not interested in progress.
Translation: Do you want to be relieved from student loan debt? Do we want affordable healthcare to be a reality? Do we want to once again put America on the front lines of green innovation? Then we need to understand that all democrats agree that these changes are the future, no matter the details. There is a set of founding principles the democratic party lies on that should unite all blue voters. Recently young democrats have gotten so caught up in the nitty-gritty of various inequalities that they are blindsided when the fabric of these basic principles is challenged. We want progress in the White House, not a man who runs to seek power and believes that his position as president gives him full authority, as if he is a king.
Repeatedly [republicans occupying the White House and running the U.S. Senate] have disregarded American principles of rule of law and voting rights and transparency, basic norms that previous administrations observed regardless of party, principles that are the bedrock of our democracy.
Translation: This is not about being republican vs. democrat. This is not about conservative ideals vs. liberal ideals. This is about choosing country over party. This is about choosing empathy, truth, and justice, over corruption, greed, and selfishness. This is about bringing back the essential framework of our government that has been followed in previous administrations, regardless of party.
So, our country’s future hangs on this election, and it won’t be easy. The other side has a massive war chest; the other side has a propaganda network with little regard for the truth. On the other hand, pandemics have a way of cutting through a lot of noise and spin to remind us of what is real and what is important. This crisis has reminded us that government matters. It has reminded us that good government matters, that facts and science matter, that the rule of law matters, that having leaders who are informed and honest and seek to bring people together rather than drive them apart those kind of leaders matter. In other words, elections matter.
Translation: Right now, we have no other choice, but that is okay. This election matters. This pandemic has frightened all of us and it has grown exponentially due to the idiocy that currently sits in the oval office. I’m so so sorry that your only option is Joe Biden. But please, for the love of God, vote for him because the sanctity and foundation of this country depends on it. We will not last another four years of utter humiliation.
I remember the day after Donald Trump was elected president, I felt like I woke up into the Warner Brothers introduction of the final Harry Potter movie. I know too many people who share this sentiment. Let’s move America back into understanding the law. Let’s move America back into believing in facts and science. Let’s move America back into progress instead of devolution.
In an ideal world, even Obama wouldn’t choose Biden. But you and I both know we are not living in an ideal world right now.