Biden’s political resurgence has to do as much with his solace, compassion and pain as with his endorsements, experience and good political fortune. His traits also match up well with Trump, who, as president, has shown virtually no humanity. And they match up well with Bernie Sanders, whose bombastic thesis that Biden personifies a rigged system is belied by Biden’s life of service, tragedy and compassion.

At least some Americans see their stories and bits of themselves in Biden’s. Spouses fear losing their partners. And most parents harbor fears that one of their children will predecease them; most never have such fears come true, but Biden has twice endured a parent’s worst nightmare.

There’s also an archetypal quality about Biden’s appeal. His vast power as a U.S. senator, committee chairman, and two-term vice president has not safeguarded his family from the cruelest of life’s vicissitudes.