Sometimes, the right person is in the right place at the right time. Joe Biden, who started his political career almost 50 years ago, as a cocky, handsome, working-class guy with a bad law degree and a salesman's smile, was no one's idea of a future president, other than his own. But he fought the stuttering, and took on a big opponent, to surprisingly win a senate seat. Weeks later, as we all know now, his young wife and daughter were killed, in a late November car crash on their way to buy a Christmas tree. Fate spared his two boys, and though he wanted to die, he carried on, for them.
Over the years, Joe became a passable if long-winded speaker, prone to off-the-cuff gaffes, but had a way of reaching out to everyone. He was a real people person, and on the Foreign Affairs select committee, he got to know world leaders, and diplomats, and became friendly with even the Republicans across the aisle. He also met a new wife, and settled down, staying in his original house, out of the Washington fast-lane.
Biden tried to run for the presidency, and never got very far. Most people viewed him as a bit of a joke, or part of the furniture. He even plagiarised a speech, and had a brain aneurism. Then something miraculous happened - Obama asked him to run as his VP. When President Obama made history, his 'straight man' was actually the looser, older, white side-kick, who provided some rust-belt heart to the president's brilliant, dispassionate legal mind.
Semi-retired after 8 years in the least-rewarding job in US politics (as he asked, who remembers Lincoln's VP?), Biden watched Clinton lose against Trump, and then he sat up when Trump praised alt-right marchers. 'He was worse than I'd expected' Joe said. Despite being older than any previous first-time president, and representing a moderate, white, male and relatively privileged perspective, Joe dug in, and when he was endorsed by key African American leaders who knew his commitment to social justice, Biden became the candidate to take on the president. Selecting as his running mate, Ms Kamala Harris, to signal his continuing interest in extending historic legacies, Joe ran a clean, and carefully distanced campaign.
Trump roared and danced and jeered and was charismatically dark and twisted, and mocked Biden's concern with science and medical fact. Polls narrowed. But Biden was from Pennsylvania, the key swing state that had won it for Trump in 2016, and he had been putting in the day to day human work there for half a century. The classic tortoise and hare story unfolded - a patient, moderately successful, hard-working, decent guy, who seems to genuinely like people, care, and want a fairer country, finally won the nation's top prize, and - in uniquely weird circumstances - the most votes, ever. He won the votes his party, and country, needed.
Now, still-president-for-now Trump digs in, and the world waits to see what will happen after January 20th, 2021. If the president-elect, Biden, gets sworn in, as seems certain barring a terrible court decision, or a shocking discovery, a truly happy moment arrives - precisely the reasonable, stable, competent, and kind human arrives - the hero we wanted, after the shocking accident of 2016.