Guest Opinion: Joe Biden’s quiet power is why I’m caucusing for him

An Iowa resident writes on the former vice president's dignified reserve that qualifies him for the Democratic nomination.

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Guest Opinion: Joe Biden’s quiet power is why I’m caucusing for him

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a rally at the Iowa Memorial Union on Monday January 27, 2020.

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a rally at the Iowa Memorial Union on Monday January 27, 2020.

Megan Nagorzanski

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a rally at the Iowa Memorial Union on Monday January 27, 2020.

Megan Nagorzanski

Megan Nagorzanski

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a rally at the Iowa Memorial Union on Monday January 27, 2020.

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Iowans have the privilege of meeting a lot of presidential candidates. I have been able to meet, shake hands, get face time, take selfies, and generally take stock of many, many candidates. The current nomination cycle has produced a crop of such opportunities given the 20-plus candidates running for president. 

Most stump speeches aim to inspire with noble ideals, passion, and common sense, but this year I have run into an anomaly: former Vice President Joe Biden.

I attended the Freedom and Justice Dinner in Des Moines in November. Presidential hopefuls all came down the runway to give their loud speeches to loud music with a fog machine thrown in for dramatic effect.

All of the candidates except one came out and gave big speeches in the aforementioned mold. Biden, however, did something that I had never experienced before. He came out on stage, grabbed the microphone, and started walking around speaking softly in personal terms to the thousands in the room. He contextualized the condition of the country and the world in a way that a parent, best friend, or counselor would speak to you — one hand on your shoulder, looking you in the eyes.

I was sitting up in the bleachers and I stepped back from the speech a moment, and took in the entire auditorium. I noticed that the room was filling up with another kind of energy. It was a kind of silence. For fear of getting too mushy or esoteric, I call it “quiet power.” It was as quiet as the others were loud.

Biden is basically the anti-Trump. He sets himself believably, as a reminder of old-fashioned kindness against Trump’s proliferation of hate.”

I was subsequently with Biden at two small events since that dinner and the same thing happened. He used this quiet power to inform you as to who he is, his story, his experience in office (elected to the Senate at age 29), and what is at stake in this election in very personal, human terms. You could hear a pin drop.

Biden is basically the anti-Trump. He sets himself believably, as a reminder of old-fashioned kindness against Trump’s proliferation of hate. A believer in the American experiment, as opposed to Trump’s mocking and denigration of the ideals that, with the help of divine providence, founded America centuries ago and that many have sacrificed and died for since.

I wondered three things while walking away from the last speech the other night.

First: In the age of fake news, bots, trolls, big money and tribalism, will quiet power be enough to win in November?

Second: What kind of loud world would we be living in without quiet people like Biden to remind us of who we are and what it feels like to be at our best?

Finally, what effect would quiet power have in governance, especially foreign policy? What about current need to face down would be dictators around the world and the other challenges to the world order? What about at home, convincing America to shift the economy to carbon neutrality?

I, for one, am willing to cast my vote for Joe Biden’s quiet revolution.

Jane Cuddehe, Fairfield, Iowa resident

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