What Kind of Leader is Joe Biden?

What we’ll get with Biden is a mensch.

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event about the U.S. economy at Delaware State University in Dover, Delaware, U.S., June 5, 2020. (photo credit: REUTERS/JIM BOURG)
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event about the U.S. economy at Delaware State University in Dover, Delaware, U.S., June 5, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS/JIM BOURG)
Family is everything for Joe Biden. He is the son of parents who taught him to treat people with dignity and to respect others as equals. To act with decency and kindness, to reject anti-Semitism and prejudice, and to always do his part to pursue justice and peace.
Biden is a beloved patriarch, who passed on lessons of love and leadership to his children. Who insisted on taking his children and later his grandchildren to Dachau to fully internalize the lessons of unanswered hate. Biden has endured unimaginable grief and somehow found a path to purpose — a way to give his heart and his life in service to his fellow Americans.
When it comes to the Jewish community, Joe Biden’s own bonds of family run deep, too. Both of his sons and his daughter married members of the tribe. For so many reasons – his upbringing, his values, his public service, his many trips to Israel, his lifelong relationships, and his grandchildren – to Joe Biden his Jewish ties aren’t mere matters of political convenience. They’re personal.
If we needed more evidence of his deep and enduring connections to our community, just look at the kind of leader he is and the type of president he promises to be.
What we’ll get with Biden is a mensch. A wise and compassionate politician with a clear worldview and an even clearer interest in responsible governance.
Someone whose first trip abroad as a young senator was to Israel, where he met Prime Minister Golda Meir and her advisor Yitzhak Rabin. Biden has built an unbreakable bond with Israel’s leaders that mirrors the unwavering friendship between the United States and the Jewish state. He has had a personal relationship with nine Israeli premiers. He has been a singular champion of aid for Israel’s defense and safety for Israel’s citizens.
What we’ll get with Biden is a comprehensive and effective response to COVID-19 that values people’s lives above political posturing — that heeds scientific facts, follows medical expertise, gets people back to work and school, and makes America healthy again. Imagine what it could be like to have a president who doesn’t spread xenophobic claims about a deadly pandemic, and instead just tries to defeat the virus and end this dark period of peril.
This is my thirty-third week of home quarantine.  I don't even go to the grocery store. I couldn't have done it without my family, friends, and shul community. And though I video chat with my children and grandchildren six days a week, this pandemic has robbed me of my ability to safely travel to visit our children and grandchildren in person. This was my first time in forty-five years to not be able to daven in a minyan for Shabbos and the High Holy Days.
What we’ll get with Joe Biden is a leader for whom cherished ideals are more than idle talking points, but non-negotiable principles. We’d see a president who prioritizes pikuach nefesh, and who backs up tikkun olam, tzedakah, and chesed with action.
That’s where his economic plan is focused — pursuing justice and fairness for all people. Not just for people like President Trump who pay pennies to the IRS but also for folks in need of a higher minimum wage, a tax code that rewards work, and an economy that supports small businesses. That brings back jobs to America and puts us all back to work.
That’s where his climate policy is rooted, too — repairing the world with bold investments in renewable energy, a real commitment to clean air and water, a devotion to sustainability as a job generator, and a determination to save the planet for our loved ones.
That’s where his health care approach comes in as well.  For Joe Biden, it is all about performing acts of basic kindness by guaranteeing every American the right to see a doctor, to get treatment, and to find care without breaking the bank or being disqualified over a pre-existing condition.
What we’ll get with Biden is a person who views every individual as they are: created b’tzelem Elokim. His administration won’t tolerate racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia, or any form of prejudice. Who will never legitimize white supremacists – or any kind of anti-Semites, for that matter – “very fine people.” Because he understands what happens when bigotry is answered with silence or assent — we see what’s happened in the past four years: rising hate crimes against Jews, and all minorities; piercing violence in Charlottesville, Pittsburgh, Poway, Jersey City; a willingness to call neo-Nazis “very fine people.”
Joe Biden will fight for an America where police officers are better screened at hiring, and given the tools to meet the challenges of their job peacefully, to build bonds of trust with the people they protect, especially our Black neighbors. A home where students can get a good education and chart a course toward college and a career regardless of color or zip code.
What we’ll get from Joe Biden is someone who understands the importance of America’s role on the global stage. Who appreciates that a strong and healthy USA must be good for all its citizens, good for our allies, and certainly good for Israel. And who views our military as an instrument of our highest ideals and a bastion of bravery. Here, too, the family is at the center of his perspective, as the father of a veteran who served overseas, a source of immense pride to Jill and Joe.
When all is said and done, what we’ll get from a President Biden is a restoration of empathy and decency. An administration with a clear plan to get America moving in the right direction again.
That’s not just the polar opposite of Donald Trump. That’s a breath of fresh air for our nation’s future. That’s what’s at stake when we cast our ballots. So let’s get out, vote, and reclaim our country l’dor v’dor, for our generation and the next.
Vicki Coffey Keyak is a Member of Torah Trumps Hate, a former President of Congregation Adath Israel, and Co-Founder of San Francisco’s Raoul Wallenberg Jewish Democratic Club. Her most cherished title is Bubbie.