An Open Letter to Joe Biden

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Dear Vice President Biden,

I have long admired you, and have thought about writing some sort of letter to you expressing that. I only hope this sounds as good as it did in my head while I was sleeping. In case it doesn’t, it was beautifully written, encouraging yet not condescendingly so; complimentary without sounding sappy, and loving while maintaining respectability. I can’t promise any of that since most things sound better in my head.

As I said, I have admired you for a very long time. I don’t know when I got into politics specifically, but my family was always civic minded. My father had to remind me once, and only once, as a child to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and respect was expected without question or reminder for the flag, servicemen and women, and those that serve us in government. I never knew who my parents voted for until I was in college, and I never heard a bad word about anyone until I was old enough to discern the nuances of what passes for political discussion and disagreement and not personal attack.

I knew your name before I knew your story. I’m not sure how I knew you. I grew up in Queens until we moved to Long Island in New York, although it’s possible that I heard your name for the first time in college where I was studying political science. I ended up with a minor in that by that way, but that is neither here nor there.

I may have thought you were from New York originally. I don’t know.

I had somehow gotten it in my head that you were Jewish, like I was, which of course you’re not. I can only imagine that I got that idea from how much you reminded me of my father. He was a wonderful, kind, compassionate, generous man which should be no surprise then when I say you remind me of him. You were always a straight talker, and the one thing I liked about you was that you said it. Whatever the political consequences. Whatever the fallout. Whatever it was, you said it. The hard truth. The honest truth. The stark reality of truth. Always telling us what we sometimes didn’t want to hear, but always your tone to us is compassion and mercy, and kindness.

You were you, and just in that you inspired me.
Whenever your name came up, my response would always be, “Joe Biden? I love Joe Biden! I would vote for him for President.” Or anything else for that matter.

Somewhere along the line, I learned that you were Catholic. In 2014, I became Catholic. Before that I understood very little about compassion and mercy, and forgiveness. I heard you (and others) talk about things apart from politics, but through politics, and I didn’t get it. Being called to something. Having the clarity, not to know the answers, but to continue looking for them. In one moment, it was all there. The one question that confounds me still is the ever popular why did you decide to become a Catholic? Why did I decide? Oh, well-meaning, loving people…I decided nothing. I’m sure you know that when the Spirit puts its hand on your shoulder and turns you onto a new path, there are no decisions to be made; only a direction in which to go. Just as Jesus came to me in His way when I was ready, something comes to all of us, and shows us the way.

I learned about your family later on, and at some point I learned about your son, Beau’s foundation, Darkness to Light. Now, I knew Beau Biden. I remember when it was time to go to Iraq. He didn’t have to go. No one would fault him for staying as Attorney General if he didn’t go, but he didn’t join the military, and wasn’t in the Reserves for show. He wasn’t the Vice President’s son. He was Joe Biden’s son, and he knew what he’d signed up for. I was shocked when he died. I hadn’t known he was sick, and I cried. I thought of writing you then, but it seemed hollow. I have two boys and one girl of my own, and I can’t imagine.

It was only after yesterday’s announcement that you wouldn’t be running for President that I knew this had to be written. It shows that for you, the dream of the Presidency is much more than a man’s dream. It is the dream of helping, of serving the American people, and for that alone, you should be president. For those that know you personally or follow you closely, it is only one more selfless act in a life of selfless acts, whether that’s taking care of two young boys, of going from junior senator to senior, of vice president. It is all done with integrity and humility.

I could not let another day pass without telling you how much you inspire me; of how much I can do because I have you as a role model.

When you said that you would not be running for President, but you would not be remaining silent, I smiled. Don’t tell Joe Biden he can’t say anything he wants. You still have a lot to say, and I intend to listen as I always have.

But before we go our separate ways, I wanted it to be clear how much I admire and respect and care for you.

You are an inspiration to me.

Watching you gives me the security to know that I can change direction; for you, away from the White House, and for me, I don’t know, but whatever it is, I know I can do it.

I know I can do it because you can, because you show me how, and that’s all I need to know.

You are a wonderful human being, and I’ve thought that for so long that it surprises me that I’ve never said it to you. But you are a wonderful human being, and I’m glad I finally told you so.

Bless you.

Love and best wishes,

Karen B.

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