John Lewis’ funeral is today. As many of you have already know, he wrote an essay shortly before his death which was published in today’s New York Times. Here are some excerpts which are instructive for the multiple challenges we are facing:
While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity…
Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself…
Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it…
So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.
In my first BidenBrief last week, I reiterated why I began supporting Vice President Biden after Mayor Pete dropped out and enthusiastically endorsed him. Humanity, integrity, temperament, and decency.
Last Wednesday, my wife Penny Sebring and I also participated in a remote discussion with Pete along with ten others. At that time, I asked him what are his strongest arguments for Joe Biden’s election now that he knows him better.
Here are the principle arguments Pete offered [emphases added]:
It’s not a small thing for the President of the United States just to be a decent person– I know that should be table stakes, right?
…there’s a basic decency [to Joe] that I always thought [was there] even when we were competing against each other and certainly since then. [It goes] hand-in-hand [with] integrity. But right now, its exceptionally important because it can have a unifying effect…
Another thing is that he’s really serious about this idea of being a transitional figure in empowering new generations [and restoring dignity to the office].
[And,] he…understands…issues personally…[for instance,] as a military parent [his deceased son, Beau, served in the Army and was deployed to Iraq in 2008-9] the revelations about the Russia bounty story hit him and his family. Like me, he comes from a community…with economic issues [for his first ten years, he lived in Scranton, PA, a small city with struggles like those of South Bend, IN]…[We] need somebody in [the White House] who’s got some sense of what’s at stake in everyday life in a way that totally escapes the current president.
In these comments, you will notice that Pete frames his arguments in terms of character, personal philosophy, and lived experience, not in terms of policy proposals or position on the political spectrum.
I totally get that. First and foremost, I believe we need a calming presence like Joe Biden in the oval office, someone who will start to restore trust in the presidency and our other institutions.
More on trust next time.
Please, as always, pass it along.