Joe Biden Was Here

The stage is set. The student body has flocked. The county is gathered. Colgate’s president, Brian Casey, makes his opening remarks. He boasts the many awards the keynote speaker has received over his political career thus far—the highest being the Medal of Freedom—the most prestigious a civilian of the United States can ever receive.

If by now, you don’t know who we’re addressing—just look up “Medal of Freedom Memes” and we’re sure you’ll get the picture. Yes, in our humble abode known as Hamilton, NY we welcomed the 47th Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden. Cue both the applause and fumble of President Casey introducing him as the “47th President of the United States—spoiler: we were all a little excited and former President Barak Obama did not in fact walk from behind the stage’s drapery.

 

The first of three standing ovations commenced. But in true honorable fashion, Vice President Biden’s keynote rang to the tune of modesty—through and through. One of his opening remarks reminded us not only of his experience but of his age, jokingly telling the audience that when he resigned from the Senate to assume the vice presidency, there had been only 13 others who had served as long as he had. Abashed but proud, we applaud you Joe. And no doubt—last night we really did.

The topic of the keynote was the Digital Revolution, which Vice President Biden deemed both “consequential and disruptive.” Sure, we soon will be able to circle the world in a little over an hour at subsonic speed, but at how high a cost? Joe prophesied that millennials will see more change in the next ten years than he has seen in his entire lifetime. From where we were sitting in the audience—it seemed more of an bad omen than a fortuitous remark.

For the cost—Biden took us back to his childhood in Scranton, Pennsylvania. There, his father was forced to leave his family behind to travel to Wilmington, Delaware to work and support his family. Jobs. Jobs are the cost of this Digital Revolution—and a job, Biden’s father told him as he left the family in Scranton, “A job is about a lot more than money, it’s about dignity.”

Vice President Biden told us we—as the future of America—have the responsibility to not simply prosper, but also preserve. We don’t want a world of technology that renders more losers than winners. We need technology that benefits humanity as a whole. And how might we do that? Well, Middle Class Joe (his words, not ours) told us when the middle class does well, the wealthy do really well and the poor have room to rise. This means affordable education. This means ensuring basic protection for workers. This means preserving possibilities. Possibilities: the very word Vice President Biden told us he uses to define America.

Biden’s speech was, in essence, a call to action. To rebuild the pathways of the middle class—seeking opportunity and freedom not for oneself, but for all.

While the question and answer portion of the address was privy to sadness and despair—even an errant “scoundrel” was thrown in about our latest and greatest 45th President of the United States. Ultimately, Vice President Biden said he has hope.

“Americans are born with a skepticism to orthodoxy,” said Biden.

That is our generation’s greatest strength—and our tickets to changing the world, for the better.  

To conclude, Biden simply said, get started. He was 29 when he reached the Senate.

See ya, Joe.