Lisa Adams: Kindness counts when picking a president

(Andrew Harnik | AP photo) Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden kisses Brayden Harrington, 12, at a campaign stop at Gilford Community Church, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, in Gilford, N.H. Biden and Harrington have spoken to each other about their stutter they have both struggled with.

Because kindness counts, I will be voting for Joe Biden.

In the fall of 2009, our son, William, was working as a page in the United States Senate, when he met Vice President Biden.

Senate pages spend long days sitting on the steps of the Senate chamber rostrum, waiting to be summoned by a senator to deliver a note or run an errand. The pages prepare the chamber in advance and clean up after. They are the first people there, and the last to leave.

When the Senate is in session, the pages put in very long hours. There are only 30 pages, and it is considered an honor to be one but, truly, it is glorified grunt work. Their job is to help things run seamlessly and be invisible.

One small perk of this job is that the pages are allowed to ride the Senate underground subway between the Capitol and the Senate Office Building. Pages are given strict instructions to step out of the car if a senator gets in.

On a cold November day, William and two of his fellow pages had just taken a seat in a subway car, when in stepped Vice President Biden. The three pages jumped up and started to leave the car. The vice president invited them to ride with him and proceeded to engage them in conversation. He read William’s name tag and said, “William Adams from Utah. Did Senator Hatch or Senator Bennett appoint you?”

“Senator Hatch, sir.”

“Good man, Senator Hatch. Do you ski?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Do you ski at ‘All-ta,’ and am I saying that right?”

"I do, sir, and you can say it any way you’d like, but I say, “Al-ta.”

“I’m not a good enough skier to ski there. I ski at Park City.”

The vice president then turned to the other 16-year-old boys and had a similarly warm conversation.

About six weeks later, in the midst of trying to get the Affordable Care Act passed, Biden saw William again. He greeted him by name and asked him if he’d had a chance to ski over Thanksgiving. Most certainly, he had much more important things on his mind than remembering something about a page from Utah, but Biden clearly cares about other people and takes the time to see them.

Recently, the Deseret News shared the results of a poll that asked voters what issues would determine who they would vote for in the presidential election. The number one issue was the economy. Nowhere on the list was character, honesty, integrity, compassion, caring or kindness. I hope the absence of these qualities was due to the fact that none were given as a choice, rather than that those traits no longer matter.

The economy is important, managing a pandemic is critical, but what I am looking for in a leader are those very traits that didn’t make the list. I trust that a leader who has those traits, will make decisions based on facts, tempered with goodness and a genuine concern as to how the decisions made in Washington impact the invisible, not just the powerful.

From what I’ve seen, Joe Biden has those qualities. He is the kind of person who notices others and someone who took the time to talk to teenage boys, boys who had the job of being invisible. Such kindness is why he has my vote.

Lisa Adams

Lisa Adams is an attorney, was a member of the Salt Lake City Council from 2014 to 2018 and a government relations representative for Latter-day Saint Charities at the U.N. from 2018 to 2019.