A Good Man is Hard to Find — Joe Biden Crossed the Street to Talk to My Daughter’s Class in 2008
It took us several bake sales to raise enough money to take my daughter’s entire 5th grade class to Washington DC in 2008. I was one of the parents invited along. It was a long trip. We visited George Washington’s home, many museums, stayed in hotels, traveled by bus, by boat, by plane and even got to tour the White House. It was President Obama’s first year as President. We felt very lucky to attend, even though I had to throw away my purse because the security was so strict getting in.
It was warm that week in DC. We knew we were there in an historic year. It truly seemed as if Obama had ignited a sense of real hope for real change. It’s hard to believe that was over a decade ago. So much of our country has been transformed since then, nearly beyond recognition. In some ways, the rise of Trump has made many of us realize what a bubble we lived in back then, how we felt that this country belonged to us and that we belonged in this country. In DC, there was joy everywhere.
On our last day we were wandering down a sidewalk — a cluster of students, teachers, and parents, tired but exhilarated from all we had seen and felt. We were heading back to get on our bus when I noticed several secret service agents standing outside a nondescript building. All the way there the kids had been saying, “Maybe we’ll see President Obama.” They weren’t yet old enough to realize that was likely impossible. Even so, we were all somehow hoping against hope that we would glimpse the nation’s first African American President, a man beloved then and even more beloved now. I asked the teacher in charge if we could hang back for a few minutes to see who might come out of the building.
In just a short while, who should emerge but the Vice President himself, Joseph Biden. He walked out flanked by Secret Service men. The children started cheering and screaming. Biden noticed and began to walk across the street toward us. We couldn’t believe it, of course. How could this miracle actually be happening? It wasn’t Obama but it was pretty close. They knew, we knew, and he knew that this was a moment in their lives they’d never forget.
He smiled broadly as he came over to us, shaking hands with all of the adults and talking to the kids who encircled him. He was so warm and friendly to them, so reassuring. Seeing him up close and personal like that, when there were no television cameras or anyone to capture the occasion, except me, I was glad I had my camera. I was snapping away.
By the time he said goodbye, our emotions were soaring and the kids could not stop crying. They acted like it was 1964 and they’d just seen the Beatles. It took us a while to calm them down. That was because they’d all been wishing for something like that to happen but when it did they weren’t prepared for it.
I came away from that day with more than just admiration for Biden. I felt genuine love and affection. What he did was a thing he didn’t have to do. That I got see firsthand that he’s a warm, big-hearted man makes it all the more frustrating and infuriating to see him be accused of the most bizarre things by people on our side, people who seem to be less interested in supporting a decent man and more committed to a kind of religious fervor where purity is concerned. It’s especially disheartening to see an orchestrated take down these days, when no proof of wrongdoing is even necessary for smears to stick and do damage. Just an accusation is enough to do irreparable harm. It rises quickly from finger-pointing into hysteria and before long, the slander becomes accepted fact.
But I still know today what I knew that afternoon in 2008. I trust this man. I trust him to have the seasoned stability to rescue the country from Trump. I trust him at his word. I trust him every time he defends the policies, accomplishments, and ideals of his good friend Barack. Joe Biden is what the country needs in a time of such sharp polarization and harsh dehumanization. When both sides are driven by movements that are angry and bitter and impossible to satisfy, a man like Joe Biden can unite us — or at least those of us who still remember what this country is supposed to be about.
He’s not the perfect candidate. He doesn’t give the kind of inflammatory speeches Trump or Bernie Sanders can. But he can deliver on his promise to guide us out of darkness and into some kind of light. He can remind us that there is still ground beneath our feet. He can be the salve that a wounded, painful nation needs. If we give him the chance, he can:
Joe Biden can make America AMERICA again. He has my vote on Super Tuesday and I hope he has yours.