February 14, 2018, was a completely normal day—until it wasn’t. After a gunman murdered 17 people, including my daughter Jaime, it became the worst day of my life.
There is nobody whose advice meant more to me in those dark and difficult days than Vice President Biden. We both have experienced the tragic loss of family members taken far before their time. I lost my brother, and then four months later, my daughter, who was only 14 years old. Joe lost his wife and one-year-old daughter in a car accident in 1972. Five years ago, his son Beau passed away from brain cancer.
The pain of losing a child is unbearable. Yet Joe, like my friend Gabby Giffords, has chosen the more difficult path when faced with tragedy: the path of public service. Rather than retreating to shield himself from further heartbreak, he continues not only to engage with the world around him, but to strive to make it better.
Many people know Joe as President Obama’s right-hand man. I know him as a compassionate, empathetic human being, a friend and a father. Shortly after Jaime died, Joe called me and we spoke for almost an hour. When he came to Florida, he spent 45 minutes with just me, no cameras or staff. His words and his advice changed me.
He talked to me about what to expect in going through grief. He prepared me for how to be a better dad and husband for my family during this time. He also prepared me for the path that I was about to take going forward.
What got him through his hardships, Joe told me, was mission and purpose. His advice to me in my darkest days helped set me on the course of advocacy, and I’m forever grateful for that.
In my book Find the Helpers, I write about Joe Biden as one of the fiercest and most genuine helpers I know. He was there for me in my moment of need, and I know he’ll be there for the American people in ours.
Joe’s leadership style, his compassion and common decency, couldn’t stand in greater contrast to President Trump’s lack thereof. The day we were supposed to bury my daughter, President Trump blamed her murder on the Russia investigation.
We can’t let President Trump have four more years in office. The harm he could continue to do to the country and the world is unfathomable. I would vote for just about anybody over President Trump.
My daughter’s memory deserves better. Our country deserves better.
Luckily, we don’t have just anybody running—we have Joe. He’s a survivor, a fighter, a helper. He’s triumphed over adversity and heartbreak, and his example is teaching me how to do the same.
Joe wants to close the loopholes in our federal gun laws, loopholes that make it too easy for people legally prohibited from buying guns to access them. He wants to invest in proven community-based violence prevention programs and gun safety technology. When I hear him talk about these proposals, I hear someone committed to the safety of our children.
The vice president has spoken extensively about the horror of the Sandy Hook massacre and the effect that tragedy had on him. I know how badly he and President Obama wanted to get background check reform passed, and how heartbroken they both were when the bill failed in the Senate.
It’s time to right that wrong. It’s time to right the wrong of 2016, when 78,000 votes in three states brought into office a man whose self-interest rises above any other interest.
I wish I could be at the convention in person. I wish I could shake Vice President Biden’s hand and tell him how excited I am to vote for him in November. I’m excited to vote for my friend, but more than that, I’m excited because this WILL be the most important vote of my life.
You didn’t know my daughter. You never got to see her dance—boy, could she dance. This election is personal for me because gun safety is at stake and because the fate of our country hangs in the balance. I know it’s personal for all of you as well, because at the end of the day, politics always is.
Maybe like me, you’ve lost a child or a sibling or a friend to gun violence. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one or a job during this pandemic.
Whatever it is, whatever keeps you up at night or gets you out of bed in the morning, please don’t sit this one out.
Cast your vote for humanity and decency. Cast your vote for my friend Joe.