Joe Biden will make a great president; here's why - opinion

Joe Biden is a mensch, and we need a mensch in the White House.

Steve Rabinowitz with Joe Biden in the Vice President’s Residence, 2015. (photo credit: DAVID LIENEMANN)
Steve Rabinowitz with Joe Biden in the Vice President’s Residence, 2015.
(photo credit: DAVID LIENEMANN)
I have known Joe Biden for a very long time – watched him from afar and worked with him up close – and I can tell you with certainty he will make a great president.
If you and all your friends will just get out and vote, that is.
It is no longer a question for whom American Jews will vote next week – the most reliable polls put Biden’s share between 70 and 75 percent of our community – but rather if even more and of even more import, turnout.
It’s easy to see why.
Vice President Biden has for decades stood with Israel, combated antisemitism, and fought for the same sense of social justice I learned in shul and at home. As president, he will continue to safeguard the Jewish state, the Jewish people, Jewish values, and guarantee the unbreakable support of the United States.
And you know what? After more than 45 years in and out of Washington, I believe him.
We Jews always want to know which candidate has Jews closest to him. His kids or grandkids, his running mate or their spouse, his most senior staff. Who visited a synagogue? Met again with a bunch of mainstream Jewish leaders or built a sukkah in his backyard by the pool. Well, Jewish values course through the heart of Joe Biden’s own candidacy, campaign, and career. His presidency will personify the best of our faith tradition, as has his entire career.
I had the honor and privilege of working in the White House for Bill Clinton, who many Black Americans considered the first Black president when Barack Obama was still a great but unknown law professor in Chicago.
Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden, whose five older grandchildren all identify Jewishly (the sixth is a one-year-old), and with whom he discusses the Shoah and Jewish issues, as his father did with him at the family dinner table, proposes a bold, progressive agenda that aligns with the values of American Jews – “equality, dignity, tolerance. Giving everyone a fair shot,” he says. “And never treating anyone with disrespect.”
If Bill Clinton was for many Black Americans the first Black president, then B”H (Biden-Harris?) B'ezrat Hashem – With God’s help, and yours – then Joe Biden will be the first Jewish president.
Our tradition commands us צדק צדק תרדוף -- “justice, justice you shall pursue” -- and we are obligated to advance justice not only for ourselves, but for our neighbors and all our fellow Americans. Joe Biden understands this.
For Donald Trump, there are no values but rather only transactional opportunities to make money, cement the support of base supporters like evangelicals, and stage photo-ops with Israeli leaders.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden has been a steadfast ally of the Jewish community, never flinching in standing up to antisemitism. He has cultivated deep relationships with our community throughout his career and understands that Jewish heritage is central to American life.
For Joe Biden, that means working to ensure racial, economic and climate justice, reforming the criminal justice system, and bringing justice to victims of violence -- whether that’s writing the Violence Against Women Act or fighting the NRA.
We are instructed to welcome the stranger, for we were strangers in a strange land. These same values animate Joe Biden, who will be attentive to the needs of refugees, immigrants, and all exiles while in office.
Our tradition reveals that all are created in the image of God. For Joe Biden, that means everyone should be treated with decency, with compassion, with aid, assistance, and with acts of loving kindness.
Joe Biden resolved to run for president after Trump’s response to the white supremacist march in Charlottesville. And now we see the president continuing to refuse to condemn antisemitic, white supremacist militia groups and conspiracy theories.
The rise in antisemitism under Trump is dangerous for Jewish Americans in particular, but Joe Biden knows it threatens our country’s entire social fabric. On the ballot this fall is our very character as a country and as citizens.
Joe Biden first visited Israel in 1973, meeting with Golda Meir shortly before the Yom Kippur War, and has championed a free and well-defended Israel ever since. The record bears this out: he has been an unwavering advocate for a two-state solution, ensuring Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state. He has also built relationships of trust with every Israeli Prime Minister since Meir, advocating for deep and enduring US-Israel cooperation, expressing when and where we disagree, encouraging peace talks, and standing up against campaigns to delegitimize Israel.
Vice President Biden was central during the Obama-Biden administration to securing funds for Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and the Arrow 3 anti-rocket and missile defense systems. He was a force behind the $38 billion, ten-year memorandum of understanding for defense assistance to Israel signed in 2016, the largest such military aid package in US history. Joe Biden has always advocated for Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge and been a leader in fighting for a safe and secure Israel with the capability, if need be, to defend itself by itself.
Joe Biden is a mensch, and we need a mensch in the White House.
For one candidate, his history with Jews is about a lifetime of personal relationships and shared values. For the other, it’s about political opportunism and unmet demands.
The choice is simple.
But that choice already largely has been made. Nearly half of all likely eventual Jewish votes have by now been cast early by mail. The only remaining questions are what of the other half? How much of it will eventually also turn out? Will they vote by mail or in-person? And what of the six remaining undecided Jews who have somehow still not made up their minds? (OK, I exaggerate; there actually may be eight or even ten!)
In the coming week, expect to be contacted more often still by the political parties and their surrogates – not to try to persuade you so much for whom to vote, as rather simply to turn out TO vote.
It’s not just your civic duty that’s at stake, it’s also our reputation as a politically engaged Jewish community. We register and we vote, we volunteer and staff campaigns, we give and raise money, and we and our friends and family run for political office. All in grossly disproportionately higher numbers than any other demographic in America.
And this year is no different. Only this time, our friend and family member – my friend – running for office, for president, is none other than Vice President Joe Biden.
Please vote.
The writer is a founder and president of Bluelight Strategies, a Washington, DC public affairs firm, a veteran of the national staffs of nine US presidential campaigns, and the Bill Clinton White House. @steverabinowitz