A president who cries: America's transition back into humanity

Tears rolled down Joe Biden's cheeks at a National Guard & Reserve Center named after his deceased son Beau, as he said goodbye to his home state of Delaware for the final time before taking off for Washington, DC to be sworn in as president.

It may seem like the relic of a bygone era, but presidents of the United States have long counted their empathic, emotional cores as a strength, not a weakness. Barack Obama famously wiped away tears during his remarks in the aftermath of the horrific mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. President George W. Bush teared up at a Medal of Honor ceremony for a Marine who died in Iraq. Bill Clinton became emotional in 1994 as he listened to the testimony of a man who lost his wife from lack of health insurance.

In fact, Donald Trump may be the only modern president who has never been moved to tears in public, even though he has caused plenty of tragedy in the lives of Americans. 400,000 Americans are dead because of his colossal failure in responding to the COVID pandemic, more than during either of the World Wars and even the Civil War. From Me Too to Black Lives Matter, Americans cried out for justice in the streets or our cities during Trump's 4 long years as president. Attacks on American soldiers and civilians abroad have killed many Americans under his tenure. In 2019, there were more mass shootings in America than days in the year.

If Trump wanted to play the traditional presidential role of consoler-in-chief in the face of extraordinary American tragedies, he certainly had the chance. But instead, he focused on his own thin skin and refused to pay respects to America's war dead as their remains were flown home, rejected responsibility for mismanaging the pandemic, and pretended that those protesting systemic injustices are the problem rather than the systemic injustices they were protesting. Trump has used the most humane power a president has, the power of pardon, as a political tool to reward cronies rather than as a tool of mercy and justice for those who deserve it.

Donald Trump has so warped our minds that many Americans have forgotten what a real president is supposed to be. We have begun to forget that a president is not just the commander-in-chief who orders our soldiers to battle but the consoler-in-chief who prays on his knees with the families who make the ultimate sacrifice. We have begun to forget that the president is not just someone who ensures the application of the laws without fear or favor but an advocate-in-chief to correct the injustices in the nation that he leads. We have begun to forget that in times of great trial and strife, we look to the President not just as a crisis manager but as the embodiment of our collective compassion for one another.

Donald John Trump was never that president. Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. will be that president every day he serves because that is the kind of human being he is.

Here's to a new president. Here's to a president who cries.

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