At the Democratic National Convention, Vice President Joe Biden was described as the most optimistic person anyone could ever care to meet.
It was a characterization that stuck with me as I listened to him speak because his outlook is incredible and inspirational.
We are not talking politics here. We are talking about the pieces of life that hold the heartbreak, the hurt, and, yes, often the anger.
Biden, you may recall, lost his first wife and a daughter in an automobile accident. His son Beau, who was badly injured in the accident but survived, died last year after battling brain cancer. He was 46 years old and left behind a wife and two children. Beau had also served two tours of duty in the armed forces overseas.
The vice president referenced a line from Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms: “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places.”
In reality, couldn’t we say the world tries to break everyone? Some folks, people such as Joe Biden and others touched by tragedy who spoke at the convention, refuse to break.
There are plenty of people opining about both conventions and the speakers and what it all means. Of course, no one really knows, with one exception: This is the most confusing presidential race of modern times. Both nominees have “haters.” We are not talking about candidates with folks who merely disagree but instead candidates who are hated.
My observation of the conventions is simple. Each one has shown us examples of Americans who have persevered, carried on, displayed a quality also identified by Hemingway but often misquoted: “Courage is grace under pressure.”
Biden is among the best examples of courage and you do not have to agree with his politics to appreciate this quality.
And let’s face it, who delivers an old-fashioned, give ‘em hell and tear-the-roof-off stump speech better than Biden?
The man is not afraid to call malarkey “malarkey.” I love that word.
Forget the prosaic pictures painted about the two candidates nominated by their parties to run for president. Real heroes are those people who have sacrificed and endured through almost unspeakable personal horrors and pain. Normally, we do not know their names and we do not hear them speak. They are today’s horrific headline, usually forgotten by tomorrow. They embody the American spirit of grit and never-say-never.
These people and their stories and the examples they set are the gifts to us from the national political conventions.
Stories of hope and optimism affected me.
I planned to write this week about the divisiveness of these campaigns and the meanness that was spread throughout. This election will split families and destroy friendships, I was going to write.
But I decided I wanted to take a different turn with this sentiment.
Actually, I believe the 2016 presidential campaign and the decisions we make as voters are just as likely to bring families together, united behind one candidate, and repair frayed relationships. In my own family, I see us coming together behind one candidate, a thought implausible months ago.
That’s the way an optimist would view it.
Richard Connor is president and publisher of the Fort Worth Business Press. Contact him at email@example.com