I’ll start paying attention to the presidential campaign as soon as Joe Biden does

I am embarrassed — sort of, I guess — because I haven’t really been paying too much attention to the presidential campaign. Not that anyone could completely avoid the 24-7 onslaught of thoughtlessness Donald Trump has turned this election cycle into. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a fan of reality television, but I am a fan of dealing with reality, and this presidential campaign seems more about the former than the latter.

It’s like an ongoing episode of The Apprentice meets the Twilight Zone.

Somehow I think running our country takes a more nuanced skill set than the one needed for playing with your daddy’s ginormous trust fund in the real estate market. Trump may believe life is nothing more than a never-ending game of Monopoly, but I’m praying that most voting Americans understand life is more complicated than that. And that we need a president who resembles something more than the two-dimensional guy in the tuxedo on the Monopoly game board.

Maybe if Trump were as silent as that little character, he could be likable in his two-dimensionality, as well.

But he’s anything but silent. Instead, Trump is controlling the conversation around the campaign. Trump acts; everyone else reacts. Sadly Trump’s relationship to the other candidates and the media kind of mirrors a co-dependent abusive relationship, but I guess that is what passes for politics these days.

I’ve tried telling Trump supporters that their arguments sound like those of friends or victims of an abuser who justify the abuser’s conduct. “Insulting candidate Carly Fiorina’s looks isn’t really that bad.” “Of course he’ll know to act differently around the likes of say, Angela Merkel.” “He’s only joking.” “He didn’t really mean it that way.”

Not many professed conservatives like to hear themselves compared to abuse victims, but in the heat of the co-dependency, abuse victims say the same kinds of things.

I’ve had that same conversation with LePage supporters. Other than the ginormous trust fund, the parallels are there. Someone at the Washington Post even wrote an OpEd about Trump that used the same stopbullying.gov information to analyze his behavior that I used to analyze LePage’s behavior months ago. And it rang just as true.

So I’ve been doing my best to ignore the whole mess. Talking about the other candidates is pointless because, frankly, how useful are they if they don’t know how to handle a schoolyard bully at their respective ages? And what does it say about the state of politics in America that our presidential candidates need to spend some time with an elementary school guidance counselor learning about how not to bully or how to handle bullies?

It says we need Joe.

Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Solar Power International conference at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif., on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. (Allen J. Schaben | Los Angeles Times)

Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Solar Power International conference at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif., on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. (Allen J. Schaben | Los Angeles Times)

In a Twilight Zone-ish twist of fate, our vice president has gone from a weak, ineffective liberal prone to misspeaking in the 2008 presidential campaign to a pillar of statesmanship, moderation and sanity in 2016. Suddenly he seems effective, polished and, most importantly, safe. Safe for moderate liberals, safe for moderate conservatives, and safe for moderate independents like myself.

There are his years of service as a senator and vice president. There’s his reputation for being able to work with politicians from both parties and for being known as a generally likable guy. But there’s also his character, which as the cliche goes, is how he acts when no one is looking.

When no one was looking, a young Sen. Biden commuted home every night to be there for his two boys in the wake of the deaths of his wife and daughter in an accident in 1972. He could have hired someone to handle bedtime, but he made the loving and responsible decision to be there himself. For five years he juggled grief, the responsibilities of single parenthood, and the reponsibilities of being a senator, alone. In 1977 the household he commuted home daily to grew to include his current wife, Jill.

The young Biden even had a standing order to interrupt his Senate work should one of his boys call.

As a single mom who hasn’t accomplished half as much, I admire Biden and his level of commitment to parenting as a professional. It’s hard to appreciate what a trendsetter he was to put so high a value on his role as a nurturer in this age of the proliferation of primary caregiver dads.

I also admire that Biden has faced my worst fear — losing one of my children — twice, and he has done so with a sincerity and a dignity that is inspirational. It’s hard to put the word “inspirational” next to any of the other candidates, especially Trump.

So run, Joe, run. I’ll start paying attention to the campaign as soon as you do.

Patricia Callahan

About Patricia Callahan

Trish is a writer who lives in Augusta. She has worked professionally in education and social services.