I first heard of Joe Biden in 2005, as an eighth grader. My civics teacher, Mrs. Collins, assigned us all to pick a law from a list and do a project on it. I was one of the first to get to pick, and the name stood out immediately; the Violence Against Women Act.
I was 13 years old and I had been raised in a household and a family that valued women, and I had always been told to treat women with respect. It was shocking to me that not everyone believed in those values, and it made me furious, but it gave me great respect for the politician who introduced it, a senator from Delaware named Joe Biden.
I probably bit off a bit more than I could chew, as it was such a large and comprehensive bill, but it stuck with me, so when the 2008 election cycle came around, I heard a name I remembered. I was now 17, and just started wading into the world of politics. I was inspired by a group of candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for President. The possibility of the first Black president, the first female president or the man who I silently admired for four years. As the process played out and Senator Barack Obama won the nomination and selected Senator Biden as his running mate, I made my first endorsement.
Watching the duo in action and looking more into their pasts, I learned even more about the Vice President that endeared him to me. As a Muslim, I was in awe watching the video of him on the floor of the Senate, passionately calling on his colleagues to support Bosnia's Muslim population against a genocide, then doing the same to aid Muslims in Kosovo. I was so excited at the prospect of Vice President Biden running again for the Presidency in 2016 to continue the work of the Obama-Biden administration.
Then tragedy struck. Vice President Biden's son, Beau, passed away and it brought with it new awareness of Biden's previous heartbreak. I learned how he had lost his wife and baby daughter decades earlier before being sworn in as a senator, and I wondered how anyone could go through so much pain and still carry on.
Watching his media appearances and addresses in the following years, one thing became crystal clear to me; Joe Biden is an absolute empath. When he says “I understand your pain,” you know he truly does. When he is asked about the trauma he's experienced, he pivots to others who have gone through similar trials with less support and he lauds them for carrying on. He does not dwell in self-pity, but he uses it as motivation to fight for others.
On April 25, 2019 Joe Biden announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President. As a 27-year-old now fully immersed in politics, I had my candidate. As more and more people entered the race, I was extremely impressed with the brilliant, diverse field and I believed that no matter who won, we would be infinitely better off than we were with Donald Trump. Still, Joe Biden was my pick.
During the campaign and in the primary debates, the way he brought up the plight of Uyghur Muslims in China evoked memories of his words on the floor of the Senate, speaking up against a different genocide of Muslims. Hearing him talk about the need for affordable childcare reminded me of the struggles he faced as a working single parent to two young boys. His advocacy for public transit recalled how he would ride Amtrak for four hours each day to be there for his sons while serving in office as a single father.
After winning the nomination during a period of public health, economic and racial turmoil, Biden did not waste any time in addressing the issues, even when the President stayed silent and downplayed concerns. He laid out plans to combat each crisis, focused on helping people. He united a party, and even brought in disaffected Republicans in a time of increased political polarization, with a message of progress and empathy.
Now 29 years old, I know that in these days of separation, we need a uniter. In these times of crisis, we need a proven leader. With a heartless current administration, we need an empath.
We need Joe Biden.