Historians often research if an elected official finds the moment demanding leadership, or does the moment find the person in the office. Whichever way one wishes to view President Biden there is one thing crystal clear as the pandemic claimed the 500,000 life in our nation. We now have a president with empathy and the emotional ability to connect with the citizenry. Something severely lacking over the past four years.
On Monday Biden delivered the most touching, sincere, and somber address to a nation that was very much needing words of comfort. He was able to do this because of his personal experiences, along with his character which is shaped to lean into the pain and suffering of others and try to assist. There was surely not a dry eye in the land as he looked squarely into the camera and let the families of COVID victims know that he too knew the full gut-punch of losing family members.
I often lamented the total lack of empathy in Donald Trump and how it undermined the role of a modern-day president. Some viewed that as just another partisan slam on my part. It was not, of course, as in my view of government and our democracy I know the collective ability of the citizens to connect and feel for one another is an absolute necessity in a liberal pluralist society. My views about the role of a leader are shaped, in part, by the understanding and wisdom of my civics teachers those many decades ago.
Months ago I heard a deeply moving interview on National Public Radio about the sadness at not being able to have funerals and burials that are normally associated with death due to the pandemic. As I listened to the words and the tone of the delivery from Biden it was so obvious that he not only well-understood death and loss, but that there also needs to be a sense of closure that most of the COVID families were not allowed to experience. Though the words and occasion yesterday were not meant as a memorial service or formal event I suspect that families found comfort and some solace in the national moment of remembrance. That type of national moment is very important.
We often do not know, as a nation, what we have lost until it is found again. President Biden has returned empathy to the White House. Let us never again elect anyone without that needed trait.