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Sun editorial board: Cast a ballot for Joe Biden, send a message to the White House | COMMENTARY

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden poses for selfie with a guest prior to the Clark County Democrats Kick Off to Caucus Gala at Tropicana Las Vegas in February.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden poses for selfie with a guest prior to the Clark County Democrats Kick Off to Caucus Gala at Tropicana Las Vegas in February.(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

For Maryland Democrats, the first page of the primary ballot looks like leftovers from the back of the refrigerator. Not just because the mail-in ballots are still dated April 28 when the primary was supposed to be held this year, but because the presidential candidates, all 14 of them, are mostly historical record. The second candidate listed, former Vice President Joe Biden, is the presumptive party nominee. He has been since mid-March, or at least since Sen. Bernie Sanders bowed out in early April. If Maryland’s presidential primary seemed past the expiration date then, it looks even more so today.

Except it isn’t.

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Marylanders, if they’ve been paying attention, ought to fill in that little oval mark next to Joe Biden’s name and endorse the Democratic National Convention candidates pledged to the candidate. Among progressives, there has been a push to back delegates pledged to Senator Sanders on the theory that this will help them influence the platform. But progressives have had their say. Mr. Biden has moved in their direction to a degree that Hillary Clinton did not four years ago, and it’s time to give his candidacy a boost.

Mr. Biden may not be a perfect candidate. We have not always agreed on policy. He is not as steeped in the issues as Barack Obama nor as racially enlightened as he would have you think, and the 27-year-old sexual assault allegations made against him recently by a former staffer are troubling. He denies them. And he has pledged to select a woman as his running mate. This is hardly an answer to the allegations, but his choice for vice president can mitigate some of his other perceived flaws.

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And Joe Biden does have a lot to offer, particularly in these times of uncertainty. He is steady. He is experienced. He wears his humanity on his sleeve. He looks to be the nation’s grandfather-in-chief. He has lived through tragedy, having lost his first wife and baby daughter in a car accident in 1972 and, in 2015, his son Beau to a rare form of brain cancer. He understands what the country is going through now. He is a man who cries, who hugs, who pats. And he is someone whose career has been marked by compromise and negotiation with the opposing party.

Perhaps to some that senatorial outlook makes him a political dinosaur in an age when opponents are more apt to be vilified. Maybe that’s what the country needs to heal. He is, as his supporters like to point out, a “Regular Joe,” not a polished politician.

Here’s what is certain. The combination of an unstable president and a deadly virus has been like a roller coaster ride that suddenly switched to a skydive without a parachute at the three-quarters mark. The country can’t take much more of this. Who could have predicted that at the 21st century with its stunning advances in technology would usher in a president with a soft spot for foreign despots, white supremacists and nativists and disdain for science and reason? In this context, Joe Biden isn’t an old-timer. He’s not a throw-back. He’s an American who believes in the ideals we, as a nation, used to hold dear.

Americans deserve better than the failed leadership we have suffered these past three-plus years. The lies, the malignant narcissism, the disrespect for democratic institutions, the lack of coherent policy, the misogyny, racism and ignorance on near-constant display, have cost this country far more than the record unemployment rate and death toll traceable to Mr. Trump’s lackadaisical response to the coronavirus pandemic. We are a nation divided, uncertain, beset by a political cult. We have watched our ideals — like honor and compassion, equality and respect for knowledge — be kicked to the curb. Enough is enough.

We endorse Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee to be president and we urge voters to give him their support. There is no real contest in this particular race. But November’s outcome is far from certain. Given that reality, let Maryland help lift Mr. Biden’s momentum and send a message to the White House that their day of reckoning is coming.

The Baltimore Sun editorial board — made up of Opinion Editor Tricia Bishop, Deputy Editor Andrea K. McDaniels and writer Peter Jensen — offers opinions and analysis on news and issues relevant to readers. It is separate from the newsroom.

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