I’ve given you a wish list of things I hope a President Joe Biden would do were he to take office next January … but I have one more item to add.
We have witnessed a president who is fully incapable of expressing genuine, sincere empathy and sadness over the plight of Americans and Lord knows we have endured plenty of tragedy during Donald Trump’s tenure in office.
The pandemic. Repeated gun violence. The deaths of African-Americans at the hands of rogue cops. Natural disasters, such as hurricanes and tornadoes.
Where in the name of humanity has the compassion gone from the office of president? Donald Trump is incapable of exhibiting it.
I want the next president – and I do hope it is Joseph R. Biden Jr. – to return empathy to the office. I want the next president to lead a nation that is suffering.
Joe Biden isn’t uniquely qualified to offer such compassion and empathy. I mean, many of us have experienced tragedy in our lives. Donald Trump, for heaven’s sake, lost a brother to alcohol abuse, so he, too, has suffered grievous loss. Trump, though, just isn’t wired to convey that grief into meaningful and authentic mourning on behalf of others.
Biden, though, has gone through hell. His first wife and daughter died in a tragic automobile accident in 1972; his two sons were seriously injured. Young Joe had just been elected to the U.S. Senate and he considered giving it up to care for his sons. He decided to stay in office. He endured loss and powered through it, raising his sons as a single dad … until he met the next love of his life, Jill, who – as Biden has said – “saved our life.”
Then his older son Beau became ill with cancer. He would die and then force the vice president to bury a second child. As has been said many times already, that is a parent’s worst nightmare.
I want a president who is able to convey that loss in a way that translates across the land. The nation is hurting. Illness is sickening and killing too many of us. I want a president who’s been tested by intense grief and has learned the lessons of how to cope, to survive and to seek restoration of his own human spirit.
A president of the United States can use that knowledge to lead a nation out of its collective grief.