Scott N. Howell: Biden is the candidate who can bring us together

(John Locher | AP file photo) Former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during a gun safety forum Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019, in Las Vegas.

Utahns have a solid choice for president in a candidate who visited Utah last week. Joe Biden is someone who can restore moral leadership to the White House, civility to the national discourse, and stability to executive branch of government.

I have known Joe Biden personally for more than three decades, and moral, civil and stable are three words that accurately describe the man.

His life and conduct stand in sharp contrast to Donald Trump who possesses none of those attributes and who is deeply unpopular in Utah. Trump has earned the disapproval of a majority of Utahns in multiple opinion polls. Utah voters would do well to look at Biden as a sensible, centrist candidate who does reflect Utah values.

Biden is a statesman who is comfortable in his own skin after years in the public eye. He talks easily of his family, his faith, his love for his country. “Uncle Joe” is the same man in public as he is in private.

Biden generously mentored me in 2000 and 2006 when I ran for the United States Senate. He gave me his time and advice on policy and key issues as he lent his encouragement and support. At the same time, he underscored his respect for my opponent, Orrin Hatch. Joe Biden taught me that the essence of politics should be the competition of ideas, not a battle of personal or partisan attacks nor a savage game of winner-take-all. He urged me to be true to myself in politics as well as in life. I couldn’t have asked for a better guide.

Today, Biden brings the most sensible approach to the national healthcare debate with his proposals to build on the Affordable Care Act as the fastest way to achieve changes in our health care coverage. It will do so at about one-thirtieth the cost of some other candidates’ proposals and preserve the right to choose your own insurance. His realistic approach to expanding access to healthcare grows out of his experience of 36 years in the Senate and eight years as Vice President. He knows how to produce tangible results from big ideas. Those results come most reliably through pragmatic change, not from trying to blow up the system.

Biden is also our best hope for stability in international affairs. His wealth of experience in foreign relations and his principled vision equip him not only to repair our nation’s badly damaged alliances, credibility and respect around the world but also to enact forward-looking policies that will strengthen our national security.

Utahns don’t believe in separating families at our borders or locking up children, and neither does Joe Biden. There is no need for inhumane treatment of people while we enforce the integrity and security of our borders and regulate immigration.

Biden’s many challengers to his left are promoting positions on issues from open borders to single-payer health care that a majority of Americans simply do not support. To select one of those challengers for the general election risks the catastrophic re-election of the erratic Trump, a man who lies, demeans and divides with no regard for institutions, integrity or individuals.

Disclosures in recent days reveal that a desperate Trump may have again defied the values of our sovereign democracy by turning to a foreign power to try to undermine Biden as the potential opponent he fears the most. This latest self-destructive act and possible violation of his oath of office have led to more calls for his impeachment. However that plays out, Trump just careens from one outrageous episode to the next as an isolated, solitary rogue.

Biden, by contrast, is an affable, genial man at home in the company of people. Yes, he occasionally has been known to lead with his heart instead of his tongue in his folksy talk, and has earned a reputation for being able to mangle a phrase or details of a story. Those gaffs are evidence of his warm humanity.

I invite Utah’s Democrats, Republicans and Independents to give Joe Biden a careful, thoughtful look, especially when he returns for a general campaign event. He is a candidate you could vote for without holding your nose. He is a candidate who can bring us together.

Scott Howell

Scott N. Howell, Salt Lake City, is a former Utah Senate minority leader.

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