Last week, millions of Americans watched a 2018 video of former Vice President Joe Biden consoling family members of the victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in which 17 people were killed and 17 others were injured.
Amidst the turbulence of this year, the video captivated the country and moved us to tears. Biden’s empathy is exactly what has been missing from the White House these past four years.
In a difficult time where it seems like we can’t escape anxiety and worry — about the health of our loved ones, losing our jobs, racial injustice and social unrest — this reminded us that we need leaders who truly listen and understand, who find mission and purpose in hardship.
In that video that made the rounds last week, Corey Hixon — whose father was the athletic director at the high school when he was shot and killed on Feb. 14, 2018, while trying to save students — runs up to give Biden a hug. The former vice president receives him warmly.
“Are you OK?” Biden asks Corey. Corey says he isn’t. “You’re going to be OK,” Biden tells him. “We’re going to be OK. I promise.”
This is Joe Biden’s message to our country today: we’re going to be OK. He doesn’t try to minimize our collective pain and suffering. He never downplays the deadly coronavirus and its horrific effects on American families, our economy, and our mental health. Instead, he shows us a path forward. In the face of adversity, Biden perseveres.
The video was recorded during the historic March for Our Lives weekend, when my organization brought hundreds of Parkland families to Capitol Hill to make their voices heard in the halls of power. I’ll never forget watching Biden listen to and grieve with those families, and the expression of compassion on his face.
When I think about the video, I also think about courage: the courage it took for Corey to run up to Joe Biden. The courage it took for 13-year-old Brayden Harrington to overcome his stutter, just like Biden overcame his own. The courage and conviction that Joe Biden will bring to the White House every single day.
Joe Biden has never once wavered in his conviction that a better future is possible. As president, he can bring our country to that better future. President Trump actively works to further divide us and inflame tensions. That’s not how former Vice President Biden looks at the world, and it’s certainly not how he treats people.
After I was shot in the head during a constituent event in January 2011, I spent weeks fighting for my life, and I still live with paralysis and aphasia today. Despite my daily struggles, I knew my time in public service wasn’t over — I wanted to help protect all Americans from the tragedy of gun violence. But first I had to relearn how to walk and talk. I had to put one foot in front of the other. I had to master one word and then another.
Joe Biden was there for me during those initial difficult months. When it was time for me to return to the floor of the House of Representatives in August 2011, Vice President Biden came over from the White House to welcome me back. Since then, as I founded and then led an organization dedicated to saving lives from gun violence, Biden has fiercely championed the work we’re doing.
If we elect Joe Biden as president of the United States, I believe that we as a nation are going to be OK. Not immediately, because that’s not how recovery works — you can’t flip a switch and heal. But in the weeks and months to come, Joe Biden will help us put the broken pieces back together, just like he inspired me to do with my own recovery.
Former Vice President Biden leads with his heart. No matter the issue, he has the compassion and toughness to get the job done. I want a president whose empathy is matched by an ironclad determination to make the world a better place. That candidate is Joe Biden.