Joe Biden, Redemption and The American Dream

by | August 21, 2020

There is a lot of talk about the death of the American Dream. I have done my share of it. So it hit me with surprise, as I watched Joe Biden give his nomination speech, that as long as the possibility of redemption exists, so does the American Dream.

A dream is an intangible. Something we reach for, but never quite grasp. But as long as we keep reaching for it, it exists as a north star, a compass, an aspiration. An ideal.

There are many interpretations of the American Dream. But in my view, it can be reduced to the idea that our nation may stumble and fall, but we will rise again to become a better version of ourselves. That our children, if they work hard and are decent people, will live in an honorable country doing better than those before them.

The American Dream is one of redemption. And redemption is as old a concept as humanity. It is common to us all – we may err and sin, but we can yet be saved.

Joe Biden’s life, like our country’s, is an embodiment of the idea of redemption. Promise, tragedy, failure, triumph, repeated over and over until it wears away our fragile mortal coil. The hope is that eventually, with perseverance and grace, a man, or a nation, may yet meet the moment.

Lincoln reminded us in a time of national tragedy and re-building that ours is a nation conceived in liberty and resting on the idea that we are all equal. But, ours is also a nation wrested by force from our land’s original inhabitant and built first through slavery and imperialism.  And yet, it has also been a true force of good in rising to defeat fascism, re-building huge swaths of the world, and for centuries helping others to whom no debt was owed. A bender of the arc of moral justice in the right direction, even as we still fall short of the ideal, over and over again. Paradoxical, and yet not. 

Last night there were no special effects, no crowds clapping, no band, no balloons in red, white and blue. But, none of this was needed. As Joe Biden looked at a blank camera in a quiet room, speaking through a lined face worn down by almost eight decades of triumph and tragedy, I saw a man speaking to a country that could now know it was understood.

Yes, he is old to be President. He has half a century of political baggage. And he may not be as dynamic as he once was. But in his very human form, Joe Biden is exactly the man our nation needs at this moment.

Filed Under: Featured . Politics

About the Author

Alex is the co-founder of Jackson Hole Economics, LLC, a private research organization which provides analysis of key topics in economics, politics, the environment and finance, and develops actionable ideas for how sustainable growth can be achieved.

Alex has two decades of experience growing and transforming organizations in the financial and non-profit industry. He served as CEO and CIO for a number of publicly listed financial services companies and also as the Chief Financial Officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he managed a range of day-to-day operating functions, was a member of the management committee and created the program-related investments group.

Alex served as a White House Fellow in the Clinton Administration and as an assistant to the Secretary of Defense. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Franklin Resources, Inc., a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Chair of the Advisory Board of Project Syndicate and a board member of the American Alpine Club. Alex also writes regularly for various news outlets and is the author of The Big Thing: Brave Bea and Babu's Bindi, both children's books.  He is an avid mountaineer and rock climber and led the first major climb to raise money for charity through an ascent of Mt. McKinley.

Friedman holds a JD from Columbia Law School, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, an MBA from Columbia Business School, and a BA from Princeton University.

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