Orlando Sentinel Endorsement: Biden for president, because he can get us out of Trump’s mess

More than a year ago, the Orlando Sentinel published an editorial saying we wouldn’t endorse Donald Trump for re-election. We facetiously left the door open to changing our mind if, say, he cured cancer.

Not only did the president fail to cure cancer, he botched a health crisis so badly that he made America No. 1 again, this time in total coronavirus cases (pushing 6 million) and COVID-19 deaths (180,000).

Donald Trump has lived down to our lowest expectations since that non-endorsement. It didn’t seem possible at the time, but Trump has gotten worse, a constant chaos president dragging the once-proud Republican Party down with him.

In declaring so early that we wouldn’t endorse Trump, our greatest concern was that the Democratic Party’s choice of a candidate might force us to sit out the election or endorse while holding our noses.

That didn’t happen. Democrats chose Joe Biden, a candidate we’re endorsing because he’s so many things that Trump is not now and never will be.

Biden is honorable, faithful and truthful. He has the emotional capacity for empathy and understanding. He’s a person of faith. He cares more for his country than himself.

He embodies the qualities that Republicans used to find attractive in their own leaders. Abraham Lincoln’s homespun nature, U.S. Grant’s humility, Ronald Reagan’s earnestness.

Biden isn’t consumed by ego, viewing the world and all of its events as a reflection on him. He wants the best for his fellow Americans. He wants them to love and support each other.

He is the anti-Trump. He is one of us.

Possibly the most predictable element of this campaign are the GOP denunciations of Biden as a socialist. Republicans would have slapped that label on any Democrat who got the nomination. It’s been a familiar scare tactic since FDR was president.

Joe Biden isn’t a socialist. That’s nonsense. He’s been fairly moderate politically his entire career, and he was certainly one of the most moderate Democrats who ran for the party’s nomination. He supports giving Americans a public health insurance option like Medicare. Not a mandate, an option. He wants to shift government support to greener forms of energy. His plans do not include seizing and operating private industry.

Biden’s already shown good judgment in selecting California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate. The choice of an African American woman was historic, sure, but Harris is as smart and prepared as any vice presidential candidate in recent memory.

Biden’s choice of Harris, who sharply criticized him in a debate, is indicative of Biden’s willingness to surround himself with competent public servants, even a one-time critic, in contrast to the current collection of sycophants whose fortunes rise and fall based solely on their loyalty to Trump.

The task of cataloging Trump’s failures as a president and as a person have become even more daunting since June 2019, when our non-endorsement was published.

Probably nothing works more efficiently as a vehicle for summarizing Trump’s overall unfitness than his response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump bears zero responsibility for the virus itself. That’s on China. Trump’s handling of it, however, embodies the president’s worst qualities.

His lies: The Washington Post counted 27 times between February and August that Trump said the virus could just go away or fade or miraculously disappear. (It didn’t.)

His inhumanity: In early March, Trump said he wanted a cruise ship with infected passengers to remain at sea because it would inflate the tally of U.S. infections. “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault,” he said.

His cluelessness: The president has claimed repeatedly that the high number of cases in the United States were due to the amount of testing taking place, as if the number of infected people would decrease with less testing. That’s like saying there would be fewer cancer cases if we did less screening and fewer biopsies.

His egomania: In normal times, Americans would be stunned when a president makes a national crisis about himself rather than his countrymen and women. Trump not only refuses to accept any responsibility for the crisis, but casts himself as a victim of bad press and political enemies.

This presidency has been a spectacular failure. It’s divided our nation, diminished our standing in the world, propped up authoritarian leaders, empowered racists and normalized corruption.

This administration’s sole redeeming quality, a robust economy, was squandered in part because the president was out of his league in dealing with the first real crisis he faced. The economic fallout from the pandemic didn’t have to be this bad, but it is because of Donald Trump’s unforgivable leadership failures.

We understand how someone in 2016 might have decided to vote for Trump as a protest of the status quo. Or maybe just to see what would happen if a reality television star and real estate huckster were put in charge for a while.

Now that we know how that little experiment worked out, it seems hard to fathom that Americans of good will would be willing to tolerate four more years of this, especially when a good and decent man stands ready to lead.

We endorse Joe Biden for president, and we implore Floridians to consider him as a balm to treat the wounds this current president has inflicted on the United States.

Editorials are the opinion of the Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board and are written by one of its members or a designee. The editorial board consists of Opinion Editor Mike Lafferty, Jennifer A. Marcial Ocasio, Jay Reddick, David Whitley and Editor-in-Chief Julie Anderson. Send emails to insight@orlandosentinel.com.