Joe Biden’s announcement this week of Senator Kamala Harris as the choice to be his running mate is brilliant on so many levels. She complements the ticket geographically, demographically and vocationally. His staff was able to keep the announcement leak-free and yet choosing the Senator from California evoked little surprise. Her ability to be both charming and combative will give Donald Trump a real run for his money; and Democrats everywhere must be absolutely salivating in anticipation of the Vice Presidential debate when Senator Harris takes on Mike Pence.
Clearly, Kamala Harris will invigorate the campaign between now and November, and commentators are already waxing eloquent about the impact of Biden’s historic choice of the first Black woman and first South Asian on a major party’s presidential ticket. But there is one element that hasn’t gleaned much attention (yes, it’s still early) regarding Biden’s choice that I believe needs more consideration: his willingness to forgive. During the primaries, Harris rigorously challenged Biden—it was quite contentious at the time, and Trump has called it “nasty”—about his position on busing when he was a Senator. Biden has responded by reminding everyone that the incident happened in the midst of a tough primary battle and says, he “does not hold a grudge.”
The ability to forgive does not usually leap to mind when considering essential attributes for a President. In the common vernacular, forgiveness is often reduced to a pious platitude without much relevance to hardscrabble, day-to-day living—and certainly not to politics. Yet forgiveness is a core value in most religions. For Christians, it is part of “the Lord’s Prayer,” (“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”), the most common prayer in the faith. For Muslims, the Qur’an calls on believers to forgive others as Allah will forgive: “if you pardon and overlook and forgive – then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (Qur’an 64:14) And for Jews, to forgive is a mitzvah, a Divine command: “Who is a God like You, who forgives iniquity and passes over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not maintain His anger forever, for He desires loving-kindness.” (Micah 7:18)
In past elections, such an attribute has received little notice. Yet we are living in the age of Donald Trump, where vindictive rhetoric dominates and vengeful pettiness has become normative. Can you imagine the current President selecting someone to be his running mate who had challenged him like Senator Harris did the Vice President?
Biden is big enough to see beyond any single moment and keep the health of the nation in focus. He sees the strengths of Senator Harris and understands why her lived experience and her vocational accomplishments are best for the country in these divisive times. Perhaps, he learned from the best. Remember when Senator Biden offered a patronizing (racist?) description of Barak Obama, saying he was “clean” and “articulate”? Concerned only for the country, and needing a seasoned policymaker to balance his relative inexperience, Obama selected Biden anyway to be his Vice President.
And now, here we are. For the good of the country, Joe Biden saw the healing strength in Kamala Harris and chose her from among a talented array of female public servants to help lead this country past the current disasters we suffer due to the lack of empathetic, forgiving, competent leadership and into a new a better future for us all.
Hurricane Isaias wrought havoc here last week. We lost four trees, including two huge oaks, along with thousands of branches. Fortunately, nothing hit the house (or the neighbor’s fence!). It took until Saturday afternoon to clear the storm debris and we were without power for four days, keeping me—for only the fifth time in more than three years—from posting last week’s blog. All is restored now and we are getting back to normal. But, may I take this moment to say a heartfelt thanks to you, my faithful readers? Receiving your comments and knowing you take the time to read my posts are deeply appreciated. Be assured they will keep coming.