October 14, 2020
I was privileged to participate in a zoom with Joe Biden today, and got to ask him a question.
The session began with Steve Ricchetti (Biden’s chief of staff as vice president, now in a top campaign role) giving an election update. He urged watching Biden’s recent Gettysburg speech,* displaying his character and vision for the country. Ricchetti lauded how well the campaign has adapted to covid’s exigencies, tearing up the old playbook — a success he ascribed to Biden’s personal leadership.
He talked about the electoral map, looking better and better, with Biden holding and even increasing a strong lead nationally, while leading too in nearly all the swing states — some of which weren’t swing states until Trump support lately eroded. But he also stressed the campaign’s strong focus on voter protection and fighting Republican efforts to disrupt the election.
Listening reminded me how I’m consistently impressed with the straightforward honest seriousness that characterizes all the many communications I get from the Biden campaign. I also receive, as a former Republican, numerous daily ones from their side. The contrast couldn’t be greater. The Republican blasts are all blatant dishonesty, name-calling, and deranged hysteria. Lately they’ve been frantically touting supposed matches for donations, at levels up to 825%! Never specifying the source for those matching funds. Of course it’s just simply a lie, a scam.
Biden began with a brief talk, saying it’s “the character of the country on the ballot.” Explaining how it was Charlottesville that persuaded him to run, which he hadn’t anticipated. He emphasized that he will govern for all Americans, not just a narrow base; that reuniting the country is crucial if we are to move forward. He eviscerated Trump’s ghastly performance on covid. And urged voting for hope over fear, light over darkness, truth over lies — and “science over fiction.”
He answered five questions, each in considerable depth. At this stage of the campaign, it must get wearying. But Biden didn’t show it, treating every question with full respect.
Mine was: “Trump slashed our refugee quota by more than 90%, and made it harder to apply for asylum. Will you reverse these shameful actions? Also, thousands of children were separated from parents at the border, many with poor tracking. It’s so chaotic that I couldn’t find out the number still in custody. How will you tackle this shameful mess?”
Biden’s response was impassioned and eloquent. Yes, he would reverse those policies — “immediately — immediately.” Recognizing how they betray what America should be. “What have we become?” he said, assailing Trump’s “relentless assault on immigrant communities.” We do have to enforce immigration laws, but “in a way that’s humane.” He promised to quickly tackle the whole immigration problem with comprehensive legislation, that will include, at long last, a path to citizenship for our 11 million undocumented residents. The refugee quota will be restored to its pre-Trump level, with more resources, like immigration judges, to facilitate asylum seekers; and his first executive order will be to protect the “dreamers.” Regarding separated children, Biden avowed that keeping families together will be key to his policy.
This face time with the next president was frankly a great thrill for me. And answering my question (and others) the way he did inspired yet greater confidence in him as the leader we desperately need. I am so proud to support him.
* Here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoiUnwTz4lA