I’ve spent countless quiet moments seeking inspiration in the words of Abraham Lincoln. His counsel has guided me through many challenges — and as I’ve watched our political dialogue drift to the extremes, I’ve found myself returning to what may be his most famous quote: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

These days, our house feels a little rickety; at first glance, it seems like the only thing we can agree on is that we can’t agree on much. Look a little closer, though, and you’ll see plenty of folks who are desperate to find common ground. Count me as one of them. As an independent governor and now senator, I’ve always found far more success facing a problem head on than retreating to partisan corners. I think that’s, in part, why more Americans identify as independent than either Republicans or Democrats.

Independent voters aren’t a dying breed — we’re an electoral force, and this November we have the opportunity to elect a candidate who chooses cooperation over conflict, sees value in global partnerships, and understands that it’s possible to disagree without being disagreeable.

Joe Biden is that candidate, and he deserves your vote. Here’s why:

Joe has a proven record of working with both parties. From authoring the Violence Against Women Act to leading the bipartisan economic stimulus package in the early days of the Obama-Biden administration, Joe Biden has spent his entire career reaching across the aisle. He remembers when partnerships across political parties were valued, not maligned — and I think he’ll draw on that experience as our next president. There’s a reason that so many well-respected Republican leaders — including Bill Cohen, John Kasich and Cindy McCain — are supporting Joe.

While Joe Biden is trying to bridge these divides, Donald Trump incites conflict. He’s spent his time in office fighting with Democrats and attacking anyone who commits the mortal sin of disagreeing with him — whether it’s Congress, the courts or the free press. He has no use for debate; he leaves no room for compromise.

Joe will listen to the experts and put the health of the American people first. When independent voters choose a president, we’re not under any illusion that this person will agree with us on every issue. Our vote is made in the hope that we’re selecting a leader who will hear every perspective and select the best option, no matter where the idea comes from. Joe Biden is that type of leader. He’ll rely on experts to confront the challenges we face — whether that’s empowering health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci to set America’s coronavirus response, or heeding the warnings of scientists by getting serious about climate change.

Perhaps most critically: he’ll actually listen to our intelligence officials. Bad information fuels bad decisions, so each time the President condemns intelligence he doesn’t like, he undermines our national security; Joe Biden will leave the politics at the Situation Room door, and focus on national security first.

Just as it is clear that Joe Biden can lead us in the face of these crises, it is clear that Donald Trump cannot. When President Trump was elected four years ago, I sincerely hoped that he would rise to the office and put the American people first. That hope has eroded; chipped away by an endless stream of all-caps tweets and missed opportunities to bring the country together. After four years in the Oval Office, the American people know who Donald Trump is; armed with this knowledge, we can make a different choice in 2020.

Joe will fight to defend America’s democratic values — not torch them for his personal benefit. The Founders split power between three co-equal branches of government to ensure no one body could steamroll the others. In the process, they created the most resilient form of self-government the world has ever seen, and for nearly 250 years, their descendants have furthered their mission to establish a more perfect union.

But this American experiment cannot run on autopilot. To ensure its success, each generation must pick up the mantle from those who came before, and decide that the future of the United States is more important than short-term political gain. Joe Biden understands and respects these checks and balances; Donald Trump wrongly and dangerously views them as suggestions. If we independents want to pass this uniquely American system on to our children, this is our chance — we must elect Joe Biden.

I have voted for Republicans, Democrats, and independents, and have always felt that the person — their policy views, but more importantly their character — was a better guide as to how to vote than their party.

And this time, the choice is clear. Joe Biden is a proven leader with the experience and temperament needed to guide our nation through these troubled times. He will spend each and every day trying to bring Americans together rather than choosing to drive them apart; he will, to borrow once again from Lincoln, appeal to our better angels.

For that reason, and many more, he has my vote.

Angus S. King Jr. represents Maine as an independent member of the U.S. Senate.

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