When I was growing up, my mom used to always tell me, “Joey, no one is better than you. Everyone is your equal, and everyone is equal to you.” It wasn’t just a line; it was a code for us to live by—the guardrails our family put in place to help guide our words, our thoughts, our actions, and the way we treated others. It’s the same code I passed on to my children, and that they have passed on to their children in turn.
Knowing what that code did for me, my sister Val, and my brothers, I wanted our campaign to have one, too. We’re not the first to establish a set of guiding principles—Harry Truman had ‘The buck stops here,’ and more recently my friend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign was shaped by his team’s ‘rules of the road.’ Being crystal clear about the values that drive you is essential to making good decisions, staying focused on what’s most important, and keeping yourself accountable. That’s why I worked with our supporters and staff to come up with a code for our campaign—the principles we’ll live by, reflecting the community we’ve already built, the team we aspire to be, and some of my own personal ‘rules’ as well. I’m excited to share it with you now.
Compassion: Anyone who has been knocked down or counted out knows how powerful a force compassion can be. I’ve been there many times in my own life; our campaign has been there, in another sense, too. When you know how much compassion meant to you in those difficult moments, you know how much it matters. I want our campaign not simply to show, but to truly feel, compassion for all people—in a way that informs every interaction, every statement, every policy we put forward, and every choice we make.
Faith: When I say faith, I don’t necessarily mean religious faith—though if that’s meaningful to you, like it is to me, then you should carry it with you. What I mean by faith in this sense is a belief that you can do extraordinary things, whatever the odds. When I would walk out of my Grandpa Finnegan’s house in Scranton, he would tell me, “Joey, keep the faith.” My grandmother would always yell back, “no, Joey, spread it—spread the faith!” On our campaign, “keep the faith” has always been more than just a saying; it’s a call to keep moving forward, to keep believing, to keep doing what’s right even when the path ahead is murky and the goal feels far away. Through low lows and high highs, our campaign staff and volunteers have kept the faith as we pursued this nomination. We’ve never despaired, and never given up—and as long as we have faith, we never will.
Resilience: Growing up, my dad had no patience for self-pity. He’d never judge a man or woman by how far they fell down—he measured their character by how quickly they got up. That was his simple mantra: “Get up.” In January and early February, when funds were running low and the pundits were reading our campaign its last rites, I was endlessly inspired by the way that our supporters kept getting up off the mat. You didn’t flinch; you didn’t quit; you dusted yourselves off and fought even harder. You persevered and you were resilient—and because of that, we got up together and won. We’re going to get knocked down from time to time in this campaign—that’s just the nature of these races. The difference between winning and losing will be how we get up.
Empathy: There may be no more critical a quality to public service than empathy—the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes, and genuinely understand what they are going through. Empathy is why we develop policies that improve the lives of families we’ve never met; it’s why we plant seeds that might not bear fruit until long after we’re gone. We know what it looks like when our leaders have no capacity for empathy—we live through the tragic results every day. My dad used to say, “Joey, I don’t expect the government to solve my problems—but I sure expect them to understand it.” Our campaign will always strive to understand the struggles, the fears, and the aspirations that Americans are feeling—to truly understand them, and to make ourselves of service any way we can.
Kindness: Sometimes, the simplest qualities are the most important of all. Nowhere is it written in stone that politics has to be a place of hardness, harshness, pettiness, or cynicism—and I want our campaign to be a force of kindness in our public life. Our team will never shy away from telling difficult truths or speaking bluntly when the moment demands it—but we will always err on the side of kindness in our interactions, and approach others with open hearts.
Humility: The truth is—in a presidential campaign, as in so many other major undertakings—nobody does it alone, and you can never take anything for granted. The minute you start believing that someone owes you their support is the minute you give up fighting to earn it. I’m proud that this campaign has never allowed any inkling of entitlement to seep in; we’ve certainly been humbled on occasion, but we’ve worked hard to remain humble in the best of times, too. That quality of humility is critical to keeping us grounded, grateful, and eager to improve, to listen, and to do more for people at every step.
Joy: From the very beginning, the quality of joy has defined our campaign as much as any other. Political races can be long and grueling—even the most successful teams find themselves worn down from time to time, and joy is a critical ingredient to staying energized and clear-eyed for the long haul. Never is that more true than when you’re running against the dark, small, violent vision of America that Donald Trump wants to impose; never before has it been so vital for us to call upon the lively, big-hearted, optimistic spirit of Americans. That spirit has always shone through in our campaign—from office (and now virtual) dance parties, to plans and events that draw on the fundamental goodness of our nation, our joy for this work sustains and rejuvenates us for the battles to come.
Respect: I was raised with the idea that every single person deserves to be treated with respect—and that’s something I’ve tried to instill in this campaign and throughout my life in public service. Respect doesn’t mean that we’ll always agree on everything. But it does mean that we’ll always start from a place of common humanity—that we’ll look for the best in people, even when we disagree. That approach may sound outdated or naïve to some folks, but the truth is we need it—and Americans are looking for it—now more than ever. Respect for others will always be a core tenet of this campaign.
Inclusion: Quite simply, this campaign would not be where it is without our spirit of inclusion—we’ve worked hard to make this team a home where everyone feels not just welcome, but needed, no matter who they are or which candidate they might have supported in the past. Approaching people with open arms—and ears—has made us so much stronger, sharper, and more effective throughout this campaign; we’ve been buoyed and reinforced by the ideas and energy of folks representing an incredible range of backgrounds, beliefs, and priorities. This campaign will never close its doors to anyone who wants to help build a more perfect union—we want you; we need you; there’s a place for you here.
Dignity: As my dad used to say, “it’s all about dignity.” Dignity is at the core of our platform—helping all people maintain their dignity with good wages, equal opportunity, and quality, affordable healthcare; helping America reclaim its dignity in the wake of a depraved, corrupt presidency. I want our campaign to be all about dignity, too. That starts by treating everyone as your equal, like my mom used to say, and never debasing yourself or others. Our goal is to restore dignity to public service, and to the lives of every American who has seen their dignity compromised by systems and politicians that haven’t been working for them—and our campaign should always reflect that goal.
“No Malarkey”: Folks who know me know that I’ve been opposed to malarkey my entire life—I’ve never once backed down on that issue. No one has been stronger on it, either; a Washington Post investigation a few years back found that I called out “malarkey” more times than any American lawmaker since at least the 19th century. For us, I mean this as a model of behavior: No drama. No fighting. No malarkey. Just get it done.
As we prepare for the fight ahead of us, these are the values that are going to light the path—the qualities that will sustain us, uplift us, and keep us laser-focused on what matters. This code is designed not simply to prescribe, but in fact to reflect, the principles and character of our staff, our volunteers, and our supporters, all of whom I am grateful to for helping to shape this campaign for the better. I hope you find it as useful as we do as we gear up for the critical work ahead—now let’s go spread the faith.