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Hi, everyone, I'm Bernie Brown, and this is unlocking us. We have a special episode for you this week. I am talking to Vice President Joe Biden, the 20 20 Democratic presidential nominee. Before we jump into our conversation, I want to share some observations with you about leadership, the nature of power, and why this conversation and the questions I ask are really important to me. I appreciate you being here.
So as some of you know, I've dedicated my entire career to studying the intersection of human behavior, emotion and thought, I've spent the last 10 years specifically looking at leadership, here's one thing I know for sure.
We cannot understand leadership if we don't talk about power. We have a very strange relationship with the word power. We often think of it as negative as kind of a strong arm experience where we either feel pressure or something's taken away from us.
Yet at the exact same time, we kind of push away this notion of power. One of the single worst human experiences for all of us is powerlessness. No one wants to feel powerless. It's a desperate and kind of isolating experience.
So we have a really complex relationship with just the term power, not to mention the actual experience of power, the most accurate and important definition of power that I've ever come across in my career in terms of aligning with the data that we've collected, which we have now crossed over 400000 pieces of data over the last 20 years.
The best definition I've seen is from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It's a definition that he shared in Memphis, Tennessee, 1968.
In a speech he was giving to striking sanitation workers, King defined power as the ability to achieve purpose and effect change. Got simple. Powerful, clear. Power is the ability to achieve purpose and effect change the definition does not make the nature of power inherently good or bad, which again supports the data. What makes power dangerous and what we never talk about is how power is used.
I think most of us have not been exposed to the fact that there are four different types of power. And this, I can think completely my social work education for this, that there is power over. And on the other side of the continuum, there is power with power to and power within leaders who use power over. And again, this is not just in the political sphere, but this is at work, this is in faith communities. This is in nonprofits, NGOs, people who use power over work from the premise that power is finite and it has to be hoarded and protected and power over is protected by using fear.
Fear is the primary tool for protecting power for those that lead from a place of power over leaders who work from a position of power with in power to have a completely different foundational framework. They believe that power becomes infinite and expands when shared with others. So there's not a lot of hoarding. There's not a lot of protecting because there's a core fundamental belief that, again, power is expansive when we collaborate and when we share it with others.
And I watched it go through some of the differences between power over and power with and power, too, because when I got this incredible opportunity to have this conversation with Vice President Biden, I wanted to focus specifically on questions that. Help me understand his perspective of power. Is it power over, is it power with power to empower women?
So let's look at some of the other examples, how we compare and contrast power over and power within two.
And then just say, if you're saying, well, you just are looking at the Trump administration and lining up everything they do and then comparing it with this, this might work on power and the four different kinds of power way predates this administration. I may go back 20 years, 15 years, it certainly in several of my books, including Dare to Lead again, this is not just political, this is about work environments. This is about community environments, faith communities or any organization where people come together and there's leadership.
So with power over, the goal is to leverage fear, to divide, destabilize and devalue decency as a sign of weakness and for suckers.
I mean, really being decent is seen as weakness. And the goal is to divide and destabilize because it's how you maintain power, which you have to do when you believe it's finite.
When we talk about power with and power to shared power.
The goal is to leverage connection and empathy to unite and stabilize. And actually, it's interesting because decency is valued and seen as an actual function of self-respect and respect for others. So a tremendous difference between a goal of destabilizing and dividing, a goal of uniting and differences around what decency means is decency for suckers or is decency a function of. Self-respect and respect for others. And I know this is kind of a lot to listen to, so I want to tell you that you can go to the show notes on Bernie Brown dot com and you can get all this information.
We're putting it in a downloadable PDF for you. The third is in a model of power over. It's really important to give people who are experiencing fear and uncertainty a false sense of certitude and safety that is usually based on nostalgia or ideology over facts.
Because being right is more important than getting it right, so one of the ways to maintain power and power over is when you've got scared people, you give them a sense of certainty, even if it's just based on ideology, with power, with empowered to. You see a goal of giving people who are in the same amount of fear and uncertainty, transparency.
There's also because it's a learning culture, power within power to empower within is the foundation of a learning culture. It's also critical thinking, evidence based thinking and information from multiple perspectives is foundational to power within power to begin next with power over. It's important to give people someone to blame for their discomfort, preferably someone who looks, acts and sounds different from the majority culture. With power, with and power to be way more difficult because we normalize discomfort and there is a wholesale move away from shame and blame toward accountability and meaningful change.
Next, when we talk about power over again, the only way you maintain power over you may have actually worked in an environment like this or been to school, an environment like this, because this is not just political leadership, it's leadership in general.
Power is maintained by fear and fear has a very short shelf life. You can't keep us afraid forever. So one way you maintain power over is by demonstrating an ever increasing capacity for cruelty. Including shaming, bullying, belittling, especially toward vulnerable populations.
With power, with and power to one of the core principles of power with power to is servant leadership, leadership is seen as a responsibility to be in service of others rather than served by others. So rather than having to constantly demonstrate more and more cruelty and a greater capacity for bullying and shaming in those things, it's the opposite. I see my job as your leader. To serve you and be in service of you rather than served by you. My job is to empower you, not keep the power.
The other thing that's interesting, I think that kind of goes along with this, it's a little bit secondary is with power over and this is more in political leadership. Constructs like personal rights and freedom are used to polarize and being in service of other people is actually seen as weakness, where with power, with and power to rights and freedoms go hand in hand with responsibility to country and to citizenry.
Or if you're not in a political MLU, if you're an organization, rights and freedoms are seen going hand in hand with a commitment to the culture, to your colleagues. Last, and this is a really scary part of power over there, is a persistent. Inciting of hatred and violence with dehumanizing language and policies, dehumanization is at the start line, the foundation of every genocide in recorded human history.
And it's that use of language where we take humanity away from people, are from groups of people and instill more fear. And it is a very. Important ingredient in power over power with power to power within is empathy driven, the agendas are empathy driven policies. Values place human value at the center. And so I want to share this lens with you because it's part of my training, and so when I look at leadership and I evaluate leadership, I want to know.
Are you working from. A position of power over or are you interested in power with power, too, and power within and power within is about instilling inside of people a sense of agency. I can get things done. I can in Martin Luther King's words, I can achieve purpose and effect change. And I'm interested in that because having spent 90 percent of my time over the last decade inside of organizations from Fortune 50 companies, special forces in the military, faith communities, NGOs all over the world, what I can tell you is transformative leaders, political, transformative leaders, corporate leaders, the best coaches.
I get to work with a lot of professional sports teams, the best coaches, just the best leaders in general. Are not interested in power over, they're interested in power with power to in power within. So here's my conversation with Vice President Biden. You'll see the questions that I ask are really about trying to get to the bottom of how does he view power?
Mr. Vice President, welcome to unlocking us. Thanks for having me. Absolutely. So I always start by asking a very simple question and a complicated time. How are you doing?
I'm doing well, but I'm I'm convinced that the that the public is ready to get up and sort of take back our country and start to cooperate. I'm starting to get that feeling. So my you may recall, I was pretty roundly criticized by a lot of very bright pundits talking about unity when I first started to run. They said, you know, they can't do that as the old days, talking about dealing with bringing people back together again, even in politics.
And they said that was the old days. But I'm convinced that unless we do it, the only way this democracy can function is with consensus. And I spent my whole career trying to figure out how to bring people together, not separate them, because otherwise you end up in the circumstance where so all yields to executive power and abuse of power.
It's interesting to me because when we were kind of waiting to see who you were going to pick for your vice president, I got in this conversation with a group of friends and I said, I think it's going to be Senator Harris. And I did I, you know, wonder I like you.
It was it was interesting because my friends just jumped on me and they said there's no way because she gave him the hardest time during the during the debates. And I said, but if you look at history, I don't think he's afraid of building coalitions and teams with people who disagree with him.
One of the reasons why my Irish heritage has been called into question is because I don't hold grudges.
And the fact is that I was convinced that we have to form an administration that looks and represents the American people across the board and also someone who is ready, God forbid, on day one, that they could step up and be the president, United States. And I think Comilla met all those requirements or lost some really, really, really incredibly qualified women that were on my list. And I also think it's important to let people know that it doesn't do any good when we're trying to bring things together.
To be so petty about something someone said to you. I mean, I've never let that get in my way of trying to get something done.
I mean, if you look back, you really haven't.
It's interesting, as someone who studies leadership is kind of my 10th year in this massive leadership study and I have come to the belief that teams and coalitions are what drives success.
How important to you is team building and coalition building, as you think about your administration?
Well, when I think about it as well, I've thought about it from the time I've been a kid. And I mean, that's the silly leadership at its core, in my view, is about being personal. It's about being engaged. It's about trying to put you always put yourself in the other person's position.
And it also to understand where they're coming from, whether it's a major foreign leader or a friend who is you have a disagreement with, and it's also being willing to share credit, give recognition, you know, and share them the benefits as well as in the losses if you're in an endeavor together.
And I think the hardest thing for most people is being willing to expose yourself to criticism and ridicule in order to change the damaged culture, whether it's in business or in life, about surrounding yourself with people are smarter than you. They have assets you don't possess and never this is the part that I don't know if you'd agree with me on, but never confusing academic credentials with good judgment. That's right. They don't necessarily go together and understand the concept of duty that relies on characters based on honesty and avoiding rationalizations.
The ability, the human mind to rationalize is overwhelming. And, you know, well, she won't mind if I miss her birthday because or he won't mind if I don't get home in time for the graduation. But I have a great opportunity, you know. I mean, it just rationalization is the default for so many people.
I think with my dad, you say you said character Joe is built on a thousand little things and it demonstrates your integrity is No. One thing. It's a thousand things is to say you got to be a man or woman of your word.
Without that, you don't possess much. So, I mean, it's all those basic, basic, basic things, it seems to me, that makes so much sense in our research.
We call those marble jar moments that trust is not a sweeping moment. It's just a collection of small marbles over time. But it really is.
Think about the people you genuinely trust. Yeah, think about people. You know, I've had the privilege of knowing nearly every major world leader in the last forty four years, not because I'm so important, but because I chaired the Foreign Relations Committee for years. I was also a member of the Intelligence Committee all that time and vice president. My primary job was to interface with foreign leaders. I guess maybe the way to put it from my perspective is realizing that there's something bigger than just yourself being willing to take risks for the enterprise, whether it's your family, whether it's your business, whether it's your government, whether it's whatever it is.
I mean, it's about not being petty.
You're speaking my language now, Mr. Vice President. You're talking about vulnerability and empathy. And I don't know that you can lead courageously without empathy and vulnerability. Do you think you can?
No, I don't think you can. The leaders that I've admired over my career have been people who have demonstrated both of them.
We all have our weaknesses, but not being able to understand where the other woman is coming from, the other man is coming without understanding what pain is, without understanding what people are going through. I mean, people always talk about the things that have happened in my life and so on and so forth on that.
But, you know, so many people have gone through what I've gone through without any the kind of help I've had without any the foundation. My mom used to have an expression. She'd say, Joey, bravery resides in every heart and someday will be summoned someday and be somewhere for real. I mean, my mom really, really, really she had a backbone like a ramrod.
She was really a just has so much character as my dad did. She say the greatest of all virtues is courage, because without it you couldn't love with abandon God.
I mean, for real. This is these things like when I was a kid, I used to stutter pretty badly and my mother would grab me by the lapels and look at me, said, Joey, look at me. Look at me, Joey. Remember, you're Biden. Nobody is better to you, Joey. You're no better than anybody else. Joey God, no. I really mean getting my words so powerful. Give me my word. And my dad's expression was, if you have to everybody, everybody's entitled to be entitled to be treated with dignity.
If you got in a fight when you're a kid in my house and someone did something really mean to you, you said something ugly to you.
You could never say back to them something about them that they could not control that was beyond their capacity. You could say you're a jerk. You could say this, but you could never say anything that was true because it went to the quick of who the person was.
And it's not something they can control. It's not shaming. Yeah, it's so shaming, by the way. It is. But think of how it works most times.
Yeah, we see it every day.
I mean, what do you think your parents would have thought about where we are right now and how shaming and just unkind people are? My dad, Ben, just absolutely disgusted.
And my mom thought that it was really important to stay. Gage was always about something bigger than you like, and I wrote the book about my son. It was really hard to write about my son Beau.
Yeah, because I wanted people to know who he was and not I didn't want anybody feeling sorry for him because I had a lot of people go through that and worse and don't have the kind of support I had.
But I remember him telling our doctor because he's going into his and lots of operation doctor promised me. If I pass away, it's OK, if I pass away, take care of my dad, Doctor, take care of my dad. And that's kind of how we were all kind of taught, you know what I mean? Yeah, I do a lot of love and empathy.
Yeah, because it's it's those little thousand little acts of kindness that can change where we are now.
And everybody tells me how do we unify the country. I still start off, I think, and how you treat other people, you know, when there's a snowstorm and the and the older lady lives next door to you, she can't afford to shovel the sidewalk.
Go shovel the sidewalk. Go shovel the sidewalk. No big deal, just little tiny things that bring people together that make people realize, whoa, I guess I matter, I guess I care.
Or, you know, I always say to people when they say we'll never be able to pull things together.
And I point out to them, I said, when's the last time you think somebody we when's the last time when you went to the supermarket you had to get something back in the in the stockroom? Someone move back and you should really thank you so much for doing that and looked him in the eye when you said it.
Exactly right. I really mean it. I mean, think about I know we all want to be valued for what we do and be seen and respected.
Yeah, exactly right. Anyways, I'm going on to apologize now, you're right. Are you kidding? You have slid right into my wheelhouse.
The gigantic fan of yours, by the way, my sister Valerie, she's here and she's better looking, but she's been on my handlebars and my bike since she's been three years old. She's my best friend in the world, but she's a big fan of yours.
Well, I got to tell you, like, I am a big believer, one of the tenants of my work around dare to lead is who you are, is how you lead.
And we can lead from heart or we can lead from hurt. And when we lead from heart and believe, I think that our job is to serve people, not be served by people, I think it makes a difference.
I think it makes a giant hook.
I always say some version of that and my colleagues, anybody listening as they've heard me say it 100 times, the people I trust the most in public life who have an idea.
Is an idea that is generated in the gut, goes to their heart, and they have the intellectual capacity to articulate it, they're the people the people intellectually arrive at it without the feeling, but intellectually know this is the right thing to do.
They're good people, but they're the ones who crack when pressure breaks, when the rebels, but the people it starts in their gut.
They're the people that you can that you can count on. And look the coin of the realm. Still, no matter how bad the politics has gotten in public life and putting coalitions together is still your word, keeping your word.
My staff used to say when I talk so-and-so into voting for this particular item on the floor of the Senate and I tell them, I need your vote on this, this is what it will do him. But by the way, you should know that if you vote for it, you're going to get clobbered by this element of your party. They said, why did you tell them that? Why did you tell them that?
I told him that because he knows I'm going to be completely, thoroughly honest with them. I'm never going to mislead them. I think it matters. Oh, God, I was just going to say that I think that matters. So this is this is a good segue. I want to I want to talk to you about the pandemic, about covid. Yes. How we are so tired and weary and we're heading into flu season. And for some reason, it's absolutely mind boggling to me.
We have politicized science and almost demonized it. Tell me what your vision and plan is for moving us through this.
You're dead right about the demonization of science. I usually end my speeches these days when I'm out there saying, you know what, I choose and I choose science over fiction.
If you take a look at it, the people who are choosing to ignore the science. Tend to be people who believe they have the wherewithal to avoid the impacts of the downside of what happens by not pushing the scientific side, for example, one of the things that's changing is no matter how much money you have, you can't build a wall high enough around your estate to keep it from you.
Being affected by climate change just can't, right? That's right.
No matter how you can, in fact, attempt to isolate yourself from disease with a little more efficiency, but not very much.
You can't avoid what's happening. And people continue to think that that they can. I mean, one of the things that I think that changed around, I don't know, I'd say the early two thousands was that we went into this whole notion of devolution of government and the devolution of government was all about not wanting to pay taxes, thinking you could do it. You had the wherewithal to take care of yourself. For example, they want all the decisions made locally.
That sounds like they really support local control.
Right. Except that when you have a lot of money, you have a lot of influence, you have a lot of power. You're much more easily able to sway a city council or a state legislative body than you are the entire United States Congress representing 50 different points of view based on geography. You're much less likely to be able to make your weight, in fact, being brought to bear because you have countervailing forces and the national. That's right. And so what happened was we got into this whole thing about why.
I mean, did you ever think you'd see a day? I don't want to get into policy. I apologize. But I think a day where Republicans were against infrastructure, it used to be Republicans were the ones who wanted to build highways, roads, ports, bridges, airports, Amtrak business and so on.
Why have they not supported anything in the last about 10 years? Why? Well, guess what it means. If it's done at a national level, they're going to have to pay taxes. We're going to have to pay more taxes. And they don't want any part of that, even though they're the ones that benefit when people put their businesses where they can get their products to market the quickest. But they don't want to pay for that because they think somehow they can take care of it and not have to support the national agenda.
And the other thing I'm finding is that how we've become awfully regional and it's Democrats and Republicans, we're a federal system in the federal system says that we make up for each other's shortcomings and what we lack. So I remember having a debate once when they wanted to get rid of Amtrak and they said, why should I pay for this as a Westerner? Why should my mother pay for taxes to make sure that people can commute in New York City or up and down the East Coast?
Why? I said I'll send an amendment to the desk. And the amendment said, let's totally defund Amtrak and totally defund all water projects. All of a sudden we're silenced. I said, why should my mom pay?
You ever fly across the country and you see all those great big systems that are in the west, in the desert to provide water for the states that don't have it, that we build the entire country paid for the Hoover Dam, the entire country. Why should we do that? That's about thinking only about yourself and it's got to change back wasn't that's how we built the country. I'm sorry I'm getting in too much a policy. No, it's important to talk about it when I've seen these regional fights, even around covid and I've seen these fights with you know, I'm in Houston, I told my husband, who's a pediatrician, I'm like, we're going to die in our death certificates, going to say death by rugged individualism.
It's like there is like this mythology that we don't need each other when neuro biologically we're hard wired to go together. Bingo.
And the other piece of this is, look, the whole reason in my view. Why the appeal is being made as it is that you're being a tough guy by not wearing a mask that is all about wanting to irresponsibly open when you shouldn't be open certain things so the stock market doesn't take a hit. I'm not joking. I mean, this is silly. No, I agree. I believe you and I agree. And what you do, you ought to get the guys that I grew up with and say, are you tough, man?
You don't need a mask, man, are you tough? And these guys come out, say, it's freedom, freedom, freedom. If you want to be a patriot, the mask you're putting on is not to protect you is to protect the other guy. It's a patriotic thing to do. It's not true. It's about being patriotic. It's about helping the other guy, the other woman. Anyway, I just think if you notice, everything of late has not been about edition, but about division.
I think it's really it's important. And it's an interesting segue to the next thing I would love to get your thoughts on, which is I'm the fifth generation Texan and.
As I look at the world right now, one of the things that as a researcher that's emerged from my research is this idea that if we run from a hard story in our lives or we run from a hard history, when we run those histories in those stories us, so we have to have the courage to turn and face the story and the history. Absolutely right.
So what's interesting to me is how are we going to, in your mind, turn toward a history of enslavement and dehumanization with the black community? Where will we find the courage to turn toward that and own it so we can write a different ending?
Well, this is really, really, really, I think, necessary. The complicated. Look, I got involved in public life as a kid because of civil rights, not a joke. I was no, I'm not making myself to be some great star, but we moved down from Scranton, Pennsylvania, when dad lost work and down to a town called Claymont, Delaware, a little steel town. My dad was a salesperson and there were very few African-Americans in northeast Pennsylvania moving down to Delaware.
We had the eighth highest percentage of African-Americans as a population in the whole country in Delaware. And so I remember mom used to drive us up what used to be the Philadelphia Pike, which everybody in East Coast knows about. I-95 has been replaced by I-95, but it's still there. It was a four lane access highway that was too dangerous to walk. The essentially probably I don't know, I'm thinking probably half mile, which we could do up from the apartments we lived in to go to the school I went to.
And so my mom used to drive us up in the morning because he didn't want us crossing the street there. And I remember getting out of the car one day and said, Mom, why all those African-American kids in that bus that goes by every day by the school? I happen to be going to parochial school, grade school. And she said because they're not allowed to go to the public school. And I thought to myself, wow, how come that can be how could that be?
And it was just this whole notion that my dad's notion everybody, Joy, everybody is entitled to be treated with respect and dignity, everybody. And I just it didn't calculate at all. But what's happened is that I think an awful lot has moved in the direction of the American people, seeing they've had the blinders taken off and seen in the middle of a crisis that we've had the quadruple crises we're facing. And people have all of a sudden realized, wow.
And I think what's happened is when I was a kid, I guess I was 15 years old or thereabouts and Bull Connor and his dogs and is signalmen those ladies in black going to church and fire hoses on kids, their skin get ripped off. And it was a black and white TV. But I remember what happened was in all those states where there were no African-Americans, they'd heard about all that was going on. They didn't believe it till they saw it.
And it was like a wake up call. Dr. King called it the second emancipation. We got out of that when we saw what everybody saw nationally on that. We got the Civil Rights Act, we got the Voting Rights Act. He called the second emancipation. Well, look what happened with George Floyd. People saw a man callously with one hand in his pocket, have a knee on a man whose nose is being crushed against the curb, saying, I can't breathe, and asking for his momma and staying there for eight minutes and forty six seconds till he died.
Well, all those cell phones all over America, guess what people saw and they didn't really believe that really happened. That's not who most cops are. But there are enough bad cops out there that that happens. And all of a sudden, people not only do they march in the United States and marched in Europe all over the world. And so I think there's sort of a liberation in exposure. Or, for example, I think we should have to learn about what happened in Oklahoma, where you had black Wall Street burned to the ground.
And so I think it's important we teach history, not in a prescriptive way from my perspective, but what actually the facts were without also acknowledging that there's four hundred years of racism in the United States of America.
That's what it is, and it's able to be fixed, and I think most people are beginning to step up to it. People fear what's different. But when you start to tell people who, oh, wow, I didn't know that you did that. And I just think that it's exposure and we shouldn't be afraid of it. And this president is trying to what's he have to call the seventeen seventy six project or something? He has I don't think he understands what happened in 1776.
America was an idea. An idea. We hold these truths to be self-evident. We've never lived up to it, but we've never walked away from it before. And I just think we have to be more honest and let our kids know as we raise them what actually did happen, acknowledge our mistakes so we don't repeat them.
This idea of I've never really heard it framed this way, that exposure is liberation the way I think it is.
Because most look, I still I refuse to believe. I always ask them why I'm an optimist in light of my life. Well, I'm an optimist because I think that human nature, given an even shot, they tend to do the right thing. But what happens is when they don't know what's going on, they fear. I remember I went on Meet the Press and I told President Obama that if I got asked about about homosexuality and gay marriage, I was going to say something, but I wouldn't go out and push it because where there was this and evolving going on, I knew where the president was, where I was.
But I got asked on Meet the Press, what do I think about. Same sex marriage, and I said I told the story about my dad, remember my dad dropping me off at the city hall to go in and get an application to be a lifeguard on the east side of Wilmington? And we used to call the projection. Ninety five percent African-American neighborhood, which was had about a thousand kids a day, come to a public swimming pool. And as I was getting out of the car at the corner, we call Rodney Square, where it used to be big corporate centers and was Hercules Corporation and the phone company and others.
And I saw these two men dressed in suits lean up and hug each other and kiss each other and go a different direction. I look just turn looked at my dad and see that before he said, Joe, it's simple, they love each other. It's simple. Uncomplicate. And the point of the matter is that when I came out and said I supported marriage, including women and men, women and women, everybody went nuts. But I made a bet the American people were way ahead of everybody.
The poll was taken showing that at that moment.
Fifty six percent of the American people already arrived at that position because all of a sudden people are figuring out, gotten to know my uncle was gay or didn't know my Aunt Mary was. I didn't know Sally. You know, they're just like me. And so I guess what I'm trying to say is I think that the American public. Or ahead of their political leadership and the political leadership tends to be timid and afraid to do things that they know in their gut we should be doing when the American people, by and large, have already moved there.
So interesting. One of the things I say a lot of my work is that people are really hard to hate. Close up. That's exactly right. By the way. That's exactly right. You look into my heart, look into my eyes, and you can see I mean, you see yourself many times, of course, now some people are not like that. That's why I mean, everybody talks about bullies, you know?
Well, I'm used to bullies. When you're a kid who stutters, I'm now you know, I'm six one. I'm one hundred and seventy six pounds. But when I was a kid, I didn't grow till my middle of my sophomore year, my junior year. I was the runt of the litter. And I'm used to dealing with people who make fun of me. But what I also learned was that the fact is that most bullies are incredibly insecure.
Oh yeah, incredibly insecure. And I think that that's why we have to understand that we can't be intimidated by these guys and women sometimes.
Yeah, because I think their fear can be contagious and their fear is contagious.
And I think they are bullies can be very good at leveraging fear.
And one of the things that I really love about the broad coalitions of people who agree and disagree and have different life experiences really is this idea of yours that exposure is Libération to see me and know me and see that I just wake up and pack lunches and drive, carpool and try to get to work on time just like you. There's there's a lot of connection in that, I think. Well, I do too.
I really do. And technology has given us a much wider aperture on the world, but made us much more insular.
Oh, God, that's so counterintuitive and dangerous and true.
Well, you know, it's like I have wonderful grandkids and great son and daughter who live and. And you ever hear them say that? Well, you know, my friend got a phone call saying from her boyfriend or girlfriend, we're breaking up. So let me just do it on the phone than it is, yeah, you know, on Zoomer, I mean, on on your cell phone and it is to look somebody in the eye and do it.
And there's a lot of depersonalization. Yeah. With the exposure.
So I think that's going to be one of the hardest things that as a society, as a world, we're going to have to come to grips with. We know a hell of a lot more about what's going on inside of Putin's Russia. But we also find ourselves in a position where it's almost impersonal what's happening to people, because we are used to distancing ourselves to avoid the crises that we face.
Yeah, it takes courage to show up and connect with people because it's you know, I often say that the Broken-Hearted are the bravest among us because they had the courage to love. And so I think when we put ourselves out there and love and connect and be vulnerable in my sister's Naseby, you sound like my mom.
Remember I told you she said marriage is is the greatest of all virtues because without you you couldn't love unconditionally.
That's right. Yeah. I think I would have liked your mom for sure.
You would have liked my mom. You were like she was. I was one of those guys that had a mom that not not a joke. Everybody wish had been their mom for real. Yeah.
OK, I've got three rapid fire questions for you. Are you ready? Sure.
OK, a snapshot of an ordinary moment in your life that really brings you joy.
Just a simple picture watching my. Son and daughter, when they see each other, embrace one another and kiss. Oh, OK, favorite meal.
I was smart enough to marry Dominic Zuckoff, his daughter, Italian food, spaghetti.
What are you eating with your is this spaghetti with like Bolognese sauce, spaghetti with everybody, sauce and everybody and a little bit of a little bit of chicken parmesan with a catchphrase and a salad. Oh my God.
That sounds good. OK, last one. What's on your nightstand?
Well, the picture on my nightstand is a picture of my two boys, Bone Hunt, when they were seven and eight years old, maybe eight, nine years old, holding their sister, who just came home from the hospital and just was born.
Ashley, it's on my nightstand along with a picture of my mom and dad when they were younger.
Mr. Vice President, I am so grateful for the time you've spent with us. Thank you for sharing your vision.
Thank you. I it's been an honor. And I, I really think that what you're talking about, not being afraid to open up and know one another.
And by the way, nobody, nobody, nobody can stop us.
But one thing you've got to know also on a book I've just been rereading, and that is by Jonathan Alter, the first hundred days of Roosevelt, there's no such thing as a as a guaranteed democracy. That's right. It has to be fought for.
Every time you read the first just the first chapter, talk about how guys like Walter Lippmann were telling Roosevelt, we have to have a dictatorship to get it right about how things there's nothing automatic about this. We got to earn it every single generation. And I hear that all the time and think that's not true. I mean, it's just we we have it permanently. No, see what's happening now.
I think we're living in the evidence that it is not only a fight that we have to stay in, but it's a fight worth fighting and it's worth fighting because it's sounds melodramatic.
But our future and our democracy depends on. And by the way, I'm not making myself out to be some kind of savior.
I don't mean it that way. It's just the institutions matter. The only way we can get things done when people say you can't unify the country. Joe. Well, let me tell you something. If we can't, we're in real trouble because the only way democracy can get things done is with consensus. Don't have to change principle, but you have to at least listen to the other person's position. Compromise has become a dirty word. It's not. It's not now.
It's courage. Yep. You got it last the last point. Every time I walk out of my Grandpop Finnegan's house up and screen for really, Joe, Joey, keep the faith. My grandmother, where she's live, she'd yell out, no, Joey spread. It goes kind of fake. Not for real. So go go get them, kid.
Get so many women. You're inspiring. There's an old expression goes it's the women hold up half the sky.
I love that. I do love that. We can not we can not survive if women in our society aren't fully, thoroughly, totally integrated into everything we do. I mean for real. Well anyway, I hope I get to meet you someday. And I hope if you permit you to allow me to come back on your show one day, I would love it.
Thank you. Thanks for being with us. OK, take care. Bye bye.
I just want to say thank you all again for joining me, and I hope I hope the conversation on power was meaningful.
I hope it gave you an additional lens or a tool to use to look at the world through. I think it's really important. As much as we dislike the word power, I think it's important. I hope you enjoy the conversation with Vice President Biden. I did, actually. I'll just be really candid with you. I it was an important conversation to me and just to be really honest with you. I think the last. For years under the Trump administration has been a demonstration of.
Kind of white male power over. And it made me kind of nervous having another, you know, another white guy. Who's been in politics and, you know, for a long time. As the alternative. But the issue is not white or male or power. Because, you know, I'm I'm. I'm raising a white male son and I was raised by a white male dad, and I'm my husband is I don't know, he's Irish half I have Irish, half Mexican.
So but it's not about white male power. It's about white male power over. It's about any power over. But is the last four years is specifically felt like white male power over making a last stand, like a last ditch effort to maintain that. And last stands are dangerous and scary.
And the ever increasing capacity for cruelty and dehumanization from the Trump administration is not something I can get behind from anyone. Certainly not again, not four more years of that. But I wanted to have this conversation with Vice President Biden to figure out. What the core belief is, and I love that his mom, Kathryn Jean Finnegan, said bravery resides in every heart and that someday it will be summoned. And I think it's being summoned right now. And all of us and I think she was right.
If you're interested in understanding more about kind of power and leadership and what we've learned, we have the first year to lead episode of the daily podcast launched on Monday of this week.
It's exclusively on Spotify, but you can listen for free. And we're going to give you the first full episode of that next week on Unlocking so you can download it, see if it's your thing. Our brave hearts are being summoned. Please make a voting plan. Think through. What you want for yourself, think through what you want for your families, for your careers, for your job, for your community. Hang in there, walk with courage, vote and as always, stay awkward, brave and kind.
And I will be back next week with more deadly podcasts and more unlocking us. Dare to lead on Monday. Unlocking us on Wednesdays, Unlocking US is a Spotify original from podcast, it's hosted by me, Bernie Brown. It's produced by Max Cutler, Kristen Azevedo, Carly Madden with Lucy Production and by Caden's 13 Sound Designers by Kristen Acevedo. Thank you all.