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The Lincoln Project: George T. Conway III, Reed Galen, Steve Schmidt, John Weaver and Rick Wilson
This November, Americans will cast their most consequential votes since Abraham Lincoln’s reelection in 1864. We confront a constellation of crises: a public health emergency not seen in a century, an economic collapse set to rival the Great Depression, and a world where American leadership is absent and dangers rise in the vacuum.
Today, the United States is beset with a president who was unprepared for the burden of the presidency and who has made plain his deficits in leadership, management, intelligence and morality.
When we founded the Lincoln Project, we did so with a clear mission: to defeat President Trump in November. Publicly supporting a Democratic nominee for president is a first for all of us. We are in extraordinary times, and we have chosen to put country over party — and former vice president Joe Biden is the candidate who we believe will do the same.
Biden is now the presumptive Democratic nominee and he has our support. Biden has the experience, the attributes and the character to defeat Trump this fall. Unlike Trump, for whom the presidency is just one more opportunity to perfect his narcissism and self-aggrandizement, Biden sees public service as an opportunity to do right by the American people and a privilege to do so.
Biden is a reflection of the United States. Born into a middle-class family in coal-country Pennsylvania, he has known the hardship and heartbreak that so many Americans themselves know and that millions more are about to experience.
Biden’s personal tragedies and losses tested his strength, his faith and his determination. They were enough to crush most people’s spirit, but Biden emerged more compassionate toward the suffering of others and the burdens that life imposes on his fellow Americans.
Biden did what Americans have always done: picked himself up, dusted himself off and made the best of a bad situation. In the years since he first entered office, Biden has consistently demonstrated decency, empathy and humanity.
Biden’s life has been marked by triumphs that didn’t change the goodness in him, and he is a man for whom public service never went to his head. His long record of bipartisan friendship and cross-partisan legislative efforts commends him to this moment. He is an imperfect man, but a man who loves his country and its people with a broad smile and an open heart.
In this way, Trump is a photonegative of Joe Biden. While Trump has innumerable flaws and a lifetime of blaming others for them, Biden has long admitted his imperfections and in doing so has further illustrated his inherent goodness and his willingness to do the work necessary to help put the United States back on a path of health and prosperity.
Unlike Trump, Biden is not an international embarrassment, nor does he demonstrate malignant narcissism. A President Biden will steady the ship of state and begin binding up the wounds of a fractured country. We have faith that Biden will surround himself by advisers of competence, expertise and wisdom, not an endless parade of disposable lackeys.
For Trump, the presidency has been the biggest stage, under the hottest klieg lights in a reality show of his making. Every episode leaves the audience more shocked and divided. Trump’s only barometer is his own ego. The country, our values and its people do not factor into Trump’s equation.
Biden understands a tenet of leadership that far too few leaders today grasp: The presidency is a life-and-death business, that the consequences of elections have real-world effects on individual Americans, and that all of this — all of the struggle, toil and work — is not a zero-sum game.
The coronavirus crisis is a terrifying example of why real leadership looks outward. This crisis, the deaths and economic destruction are immeasurably worse because Trump and his administration were unwilling to do what was necessary to mitigate its worst effects and bring the country back as quickly as possible.
We asked ourselves: How would a Biden presidency handle this crisis? Would he spend weeks lying about the risk? Would he look to cable news, the stock market and his ratings before taking the steps to make us safer? The answer is obvious: Biden will be the superior leader during the crisis of our generation.
We’ve seen the damage three years of corruption and cultish amateurism can do. This country cannot afford to be torn apart for sport and profit for another term, as Trump will surely do. If Biden takes office next January, he won’t need on-the-job training.
We are in a transcendent and transformative period of American history. The nation cannot afford another four years of chaos, duplicity and Trump’s reality distortion. This country is crying out for a president with a spine stiffened by tragedy, a worldview shaped by experience and a heart whose compass points to decency.
It is our hope that when the next president takes the oath of office in January, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. will be the president for a truly united America. The stakes are too high to do anything less.
The authors are on the advisory board of The Lincoln Project.
This editorial first appeared in The Washington Post on April 15, 2020.