manisha singh oped

A screenshot of Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden's virtual campaign event on March 13, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

In recent weeks, I have observed certain people making the argument that if you are a Hindu American, you are better off voting for Donald Trump. As a proud Hindu American voter, these sentiments are nothing further from the truth. This November, religious tolerance and respect for all communities of faith are on the ballot. That is why I’m voting for Vice President Joe Biden this November.

Joe Biden is a man who has spent his entire life serving this country, and has a long record of achievements. He is known for being a voice of reason, a man of principles and conviction. He understands what it means to be a family man, and has persevered through unimaginable grief and loss. Vice President Biden, or Uncle Joe—as many call him—is exactly who America needs as the next president.

As Democrats work towards building a solid, inclusive and united party platform that will define our next president, I want to talk about the soft qualities that will make Vice President Joe Biden one of the greatest presidents of our time. These qualities are rooted in my values as an Indian American of the Hindu faith.

First, Vice President Biden exhibits humility and compassion. For those of us born and raised in a religious Hindu family, compassion and humility are the cornerstones of our personalities. Embracing those who are less fortunate is part of practicing Hinduism. We believe in the purity of the soul and that God resides in each of us, irrespective of their social or economic status. Hindus reverentially bow with hands folded in prayers when we meet someone, be it family, friends or strangers, and say “Namaste,” it literally means I bow to you. This keeps us humble and grounded. 

One of the most endearing qualities about Biden to me is his humility. We have all heard him often humbly state that no single party has a monopoly on the truth, and he has pledged to be open-minded on subjects where people disagree. He has also talked about the need to surround himself with the best and brightest so that he can make informed decisions. This contrasts sharply with Trump, who continues to believe in his misguided statement that he “alone can fix it.”

Vice President Biden also exhibits humility in the way he treats his former opponents during the Democratic primaries. We have seen his reverence towards our soldiers in uniform, and his compassion towards the sick and poor in our society. He understands that healthcare is a right of every human being and not of the few. Biden’s initiative on caregiving shows his focus on care for children, elderly and those devoted to caring for them. These are precisely the qualities that are instilled in us in Hindus.

Vice President Biden respects pluralism. As Hindus, we are taught that there are many different schools of thought, and that it is imperative to respect them all. Hindus believe that there are many different interpretations of the image of God and, thus, there are many different forms of God in the Hindu faith. We are also taught to have a deep respect for nature. While this sounds strange to many, this teaches us to accept and respect people who don’t look like us or pray like us. It teaches us to be accommodating and open to different views. It affirms the belief that goodness comes in many forms. We respect everything in nature as a gift, making us compassionate to plants, animals and everything else in our environment.

Biden is a devout Catholic, yet he supports a woman’s right to choose. His ability to appreciate and respect the view of others and not impose his beliefs is paramount in a leader who is responsible for citizens who belong to different faiths and religions. Calling on unity in race and religion and people from all walks of life, ones who look like him or not, is a sign of great understanding of plurality. This respect for others while holding strong to your own faith is something I respect in a leader. Trump simply does not show respect to people of other faiths.

Vice President Biden champions a better world for women. The strength of women and their contribution to the society, community and the world is inculcated into Hindus from early childhood. This is evident from the fact that in Hinduism we pray not just to Gods but Goddesses too. We have Goddesses of Knowledge, Wealth, Life, and Strength. Respecting women and believing that they are capable of doing everything a man can do has been an important lesson to us growing up. We understand that a woman's choice to raise a family and not have a career outside of home is not a sign of weakness, but an invaluable strength that enables her to invest in our future generation.

Biden is the only candidate who without hesitation accepted the fact that it is time that women have the opportunity to become the vice president of the United States. Various women candidates during the Democratic Primary had varying viewpoints, but Biden has created a coalition of cohesive and progressive thinkers by incorporating into his policies input from Democratic women candidates for president.

Being a woman, I loved that President Barack Obama was raised by a strong mother and how much he respected his wife and daughters. I see the same values in Joe Biden. We owe it to the girls growing up in this country to give them leaders who teach them not to settle for anything but the best. President Trump, in contrast, does not treat women as equals.

Joe Biden is a man who has spent his entire life serving this country, and has a long record of achievements. He is known for being a voice of reason, a man of principles and conviction. He is a man who understands what it means to be a family man, and has persevered through unimaginable grief and loss. Through his gaffes, silly anecdotes and off the cuff references to cowboy movies, we see that we have a candidate who identifies with us and is in touch with reality. Having a vision and detailed policies for minorities, economically challenged communities, and for unity shows that Vice President Biden is willing and capable of giving his best to the office of the president.

Vice President Biden is exactly who America needs as the next president. My morals, principles, and values as a proud Hindu American lead me to vote for Joe Biden this November.

(The author is an At-Large Delegate for Joe Biden from Virginia.)

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