Valerie Biden Owens discussed her memoir at the School of Media and Public Affairs last Friday.
Owens, the first woman in U.S. history to manage a presidential campaign and the sister of President Joe Biden, spoke about her new memoir, “Growing Up Biden,” which details growing up in the Biden household and how it shaped her career in an event hosted by the College of Professional Studies and the Graduate School of Political Management. CPS Dean Liesl Riddle moderated the event, part of a larger two-day seminar, “Strategy of Electoral Campaigns: Elections in the U.S. and Latin America,” hosted in both English and Spanish.
Owens began her conversation by discussing her family and her relationship with them, to whom she dedicated the book. She said the Bidens were a middle-class family while she grew up with three brothers.
“I grew up with three brothers in a middle-class, American Irish Catholic background, in mid-20th century America,” Owens said.
Owens said her book is about appreciating and embracing the ties which bind families together. She said the values of appreciation and understanding that come from family are needed in times of increased political polarization.
“The thing that I think we’re most missing today is empathy,” Owens said. “And it’s my ability to taste or feel when you only have so much more in common.”
Owens said there is a significant difference in politics today versus when she began working, as there is less trust in institutions than in the past. Owens then took questions from the audience with topics ranging from the character of her brother to navigating the worlds of both politics and writing.
When asked about the influence of modern media on politics, Owens said the effect of technological change, like the massive amount of new media platforms, in recent history is having a major impact on how politics functions.
“There’s so many different exit ramps, and what we tend to do was take the exit ramp that takes us to home base with people who think like us and act like us,” Owens said.