From the beginning in the 2020 Democratic primary, I had hoped against hope that my two favorite Democrats, Kamala Harris and Joe Biden, would not enter the race against each other. Of course, I knew they would, and they did. Biden and Harris also held the distinction, for me, as the only two people in the Democratic field I had already voted for.
By the time they ran for president this cycle, I had voted for Harris six times — in two primary and general elections as California’s Attorney General, and in one primary and one general election for US Senator from our great state. I voted for Joe Biden for Vice President twice along with Barack Obama on the presidential ballots in 2008 and 2012.
Kamala Harris is brilliant, affable, thoughtful, witty, and sharp. Californians are lucky that Harris now holds the seat in the Senate once graced by the indomitable Barbara Boxer. I truly wish her campaign had gone further in the race.
But it wasn’t Kamala Harris’s withdrawal that cemented my choice of Joe Biden.
The more I saw Joe Biden in this campaign trail, the more impressed I grew. After faltering a bit in the first debate in June, Biden has evidently decided to shed his inhibitions, For the rest of the primary season, he has played to his strengths. In a primary season that started off — if you listened to the political press at least — hungry for new blood and impossible ideas, Biden has remarkably and fearlessly staked out a message of restoration rather than revolution. In a primary that others misjudged badly for its Leftward pull, Joe Biden has made an unrelenting stand in favor of the pragmatic, centrist, pro-Obama coalition of the Democratic party and the country.
Biden wasn’t willing to chase the latest shiny object. From the beginning, Biden laid out a vision for health care building on the crowning achievement of the Obama years, the Affordable Care Act. While others bet that single-payer Medicare for All would become a litmus test for the Democratic primary electorate, Biden forged a path forward by expanding Obamacare’s middle-class subsidies and fulfilling its promise of Medicaid as an income-based entitlement. He proposed to induce the market with competition and affordability with a strong public option. Biden’s plan trusts the American people with true choice and challenges the insurance industry with real competition without a massive, expensive, top-down, government-imposed experiment that has no chance of becoming law.
Faced with hardline immigration hecklers, Biden refused to commit to halting, by executive fiat, the deportation of those who commit serious felonies. Instead of submitting to the loud calls to condemn President Obama for enforcing the law against criminals, Biden sprung to Obama’s defense and repudiated those who attempted to equate Obama’s humane policies of supporting young people and families with Trump’s caging of children. As an immigrant, I appreciate and agree with Biden’s stand. As I have written, the safety of refugees and asylum seekers is incompatible with a full moratorium on all deportations.
When “free college” was all the frenzy, Biden refused to submit to “progressive” gatekeepers who believe in paying off big banks for the student loans taken out by the children of rich people who bribed school officials. He refused to kowtow to browbeating by Twitter armies that believe in taxpayers paying for college for millionaires and billionaires. Instead of spending all the energy to education post-high school, Biden’s plan frontloads that investment with universal pre-school and ensures that every child graduates high school prepared either for trade or college. Also core to his education vision is a plan to close the funding gap between rich and poor, white and non-white school districts. Biden wants to address the structural disadvantages that keep people from postsecondary education in the first place. When it comes to postsecondary education, Biden elevates community colleges, HBCUs, and assistance for middle and low-income students.
Instead of stopping at an aspirational resolution, Joe Biden’s climate action plan focuses on the ‘action’ part: investment in research and development of clean energy technologies, a carbon-neutral economy by 2050, and rejoining and amplifying the Paris Climate Accord. Regular Joe from Amtrak also has a plan to reinvigorate local rail and long-distance, high-speed rail as part of a broad public transit initiative.
Not only did Biden flourish by staking out pragmatic, practical proposals for progress on domestic policy, he also stopped being gun shy about capitalizing on his biggest advantage against Trump: he is a tested and familiar leader on the world stage while Trump is a tested and familiar clown. Even before he became the most consequential Vice President in history largely due to his presence on the global stage, Biden had already been chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, met world leaders, and played a major role in the pre-Trump bipartisan foreign policy posture of the United States as a strong and active — if sometimes imperfect — advocate for freedom, democratic institutions, and human rights.
Biden’s record, though not in every instance clairvoyant, has always been one built upon honesty and trust with global leaders. Time after time, Biden drew on those connections — as well as the hope and aspirations President Obama represented across the globe — to deliver major accomplishments like the Iran Nuclear Deal, a democratic pledge for our NATO allies, and the Paris Climate Accord.
Just like he did on foreign policy, Biden has leaned on his record of accomplishments on the domestic front. Domestic violence wasn’t always seen as a crime in America, until Joe Biden made it one with his pioneering legislation, the Violence Against Women Act. A co-sponsor of the original Americans with Disabilities Act in 1989, Biden was among the first in American government to fight for the dignity of all Americans, irrespective of ability. Biden spearheaded the first assault weapons ban in America, limited the size of magazines, and while some of the current claimants to the progressive throne were busy opposing the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, Biden led the way to pass it and got it signed into law by President Clinton. During the Obama-Biden administration, President Obama leaned on his vice president to navigate Congress and help pass health care reform and manage the largest financial rescue program in US history.
Instead of running away from his experience because a shallow campaign season might distort it, Biden embraced the depth of his record as a public servant. In a primary where early oxygen seemed to be dominated by forces that mistake inexperience for virtue, lack of accomplishment for integrity, and rigidity for courage, Biden took up the mantle of experience, accomplishment, and yes, for the interest of progress and governing, compromise.
Biden refused to pander, and it’s working.
2020 comes to us as a watershed moment and as an emergency. Donald Trump has badly wounded our democratic institutions, our sense of community, and our standing in the world. Indeed, Trump is a danger to our national and global character that is clear, present, in progress, and worsening. Our next president must be one who is dedicated to our national character and is deeply familiar with the levers of national power and international relations to begin to repair that damage immediately. We need a president whose word the rest of the globe trusts based not simply on promise but on history.
We need someone to restore America’s position at home and abroad. The candidate best positioned to do so, for me, is Joseph R. Biden.
I support Joe Biden for president.