I originally posted this on my Facebook wall:
Just watched Joe Bidens’ farewell and was struck by how fortunate I was to live during a time where I could witness such genuine interest in public service in a presidency.
The way both of these men speak about each other reveals so much about their relationship. It serves as a stellar example for masculine friendships. Our male culture is so saturated with homophobia that at the slightest hint of vulnerability or genuine affection, or shared self sacrifice, or empathy, the American Straight White Male persona scatters like roaches when the kitchen light flickers to life.
The way Vice President Biden opened up about loss and the support and generosity shown by the men and women in his life speaks to how much he gave in order to get that in return.
He embraced his flaws, and he played the game just as much as any politician, but he’s one of the few you can tell that their objective—the reason why you play the game in the first place…they think their objective is genuinely good for everyone.
And I got to witness that.
These guys served with a goal of more closely aligning how we practice government with how we think about what it is to be American.
A lot of modern presidents serve the machine:
-Jobs seen as a vehicle for (and measure of) productivity, instead of a Job as a special kind of work that adds meaning to your life in a very ancient way.
-Using how well the machine is running as a way to answer the question “are we doing well as a country?” all the while completely ignoring how well we fulfill the potential of all of our children, how unequal in opportunity is our society, how we think of our fellow citizens, how we view self improvement for self improvements sake, are we good stewards of the land, how is power distributed…the list keeps going.
-Military Might as a show of force to other countries in order, mostly, to create favorable economic conditions for American business interests.
-A patriotism so insecure that it must shout down dissent at all costs.
-A politics that stokes fear—of immigrants taking our jobs, of being the victim of terrorism, of societies’ acceptance of people whose existence threatens your world view of what is ‘right’ or how things are ‘supposed to be,’ fear that the innocence of your children will be stolen from them by artists with dangerous ideas—in order to necessitate these peoples’ existence.
Their sales pitch is “Your way of life, everything you know and love could be lost at any moment, and you’re powerless to stop that from happening. You cannot solve your own problems, you need me. Look at my wealth. It indicates that I’m a better human being than you are. And one that just might be able to save you poor sons of bitches. You just want to enjoy our production/consumption-based culture, and I’m here to help.”
In the face of that bullshit, in the face of a congress who chose to serve very base instincts instead of their constituents, in the face of hatred based on nothing more than the amount of melanin—a chemical which we all have—in his skin, they always took the high road.
Look at all of his media appearances, and the common thread is that he really believes what he’s selling is a good thing that will benefit a lot of people. His pitch was “I’d like to give you more tools to help you solve bigger and more noble problems than worrying about being thrown into debt in case of illness or unfortunate circumstance”
They weren’t perfect, and I was frustrated by some very major things, but they did their best and they had my interests in mind as a citizen, not just as a cog in the machine.
So, I’m lucky I got to experience this, and I’m lucky Obama and Biden were there to be role models for my boys.