Biden shows the rarely seen human side of politicians

Published 8:03 pm Saturday, September 12, 2015

Either Vice President Joe Biden is the greatest actor on earth, or he really is a genuine human being who hurts like the rest of us — and isn’t afraid to show that pain.

Biden’s life has been marked by tragedy. His wife and 1-year-old daughter were killed in an automobile accident while Christmas shopping in 1972. The photos of Biden being sworn in as a senator while his injured son Beau looked on is both heart-breaking and heart-warming.  Beau died from brain cancer in May, a loss that rocked the Biden family.

Biden served in the Senate for 35 years, and while I disagree with most of his political positions, I admire a man who commits himself to the service of his country and follows through with the kind of dedication rarely seen today. He’s also been dedicated to his family throughout his career. “To be at home every day for his young sons, Biden began the practice of commuting every day by train from his home in Wilmington to Washington, D.C., which he continued to do throughout his Senate career,” according to the Almanac of American Politics.

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There have been several calls for Biden to run for president, largely because Hillary Clinton has struggled lately. Biden unsuccessfully ran for the nomination in 1988 and 2008.

On “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” this week, Biden suggested he isn’t emotionally strong enough to run, following the death of Beau.

“I don’t think any man or woman should run for president unless, number one, they know exactly why they would want to be president and, number two, they can look at folks out there and say, ‘I promise you, you have my whole heart, my whole soul, my energy, and my passion to do this,” he said. “And I’d be lying if I said that I knew I was there. I’m being completely honest. Nobody has a right in my view to seek that office unless they are willing to give it 110 percent of who they are.”

It was a shockingly honest answer, and one most of us could relate to. We could imagine thinking and feeling the same thing. Biden has an air of authenticity rarely seen in politics today. Somehow we’ve ended up with politicians who seem far removed from the realities of being human. They don’t seem to think, feel or act like the rest of us. Even if they are relatively normal in their private lives, they struggle to convey that normalcy in public.

Colbert was right when he said: “Everybody loves Joe Biden” because “when we see you, we think we’re actually seeing the real Joe Biden. You’re not a politician who’s created some sort of facade to get something out of this or triangulate your political position or emotional state to try to make us feel a certain way. We see the real you.”

On the Republican side, the guy leading in the polls today is about as far from real as you can get.  To think that Donald Trump could relate to most Americans is laughable. Beyond being incredibly wealthy (most of Americans are not), Trump appears to have no particular faith in God (most Americans do), he seems to have a genuine disdain for illegal immigrants (most Americans do not), and he’s been all over the map when it comes to the touchy topic of abortion (most Americans feel strongly one way or the other). He’s a politician in the worst sense, and I’m still not convinced that his entire campaign isn’t secretly being filmed for a reality show that will air next year.

Biden is the opposite of Trump — and Clinton — in so many ways. While I could never vote for him for president, I’m confident that any decision he made as Commander-in-Chief would be made with a sincere love for and dedication to this country.

I’m hoping he decides to run. Maybe an infusion of “human-ness” into the campaign will lead more candidates to embrace their humanity.

Luke Horton is the publisher of The Daily Leader.