Opinion editor's note: The Star Tribune Editorial Board operates separately from the newsroom, and no news editors or reporters were involved in the endorsement process.

This nation is weighing one of the most consequential elections in modern history. America needs a leader who can reunite a fractured country; who can restore our standing among allies and position of leadership on the world stage; who can reinfuse a battered federal government with purpose, ethics and expertise.

The Star Tribune Editorial Board believes Democratic nominee Joe Biden has the character, experience, purpose and vision to so lead this nation as its next president.

We recognize that Minnesota is as politically divided right now as the nation, and we know not everyone will agree. We respect those with different views. But we ask that they consider the alternative.

At every juncture where President Donald Trump could have brought this country together, he has sought to tear it apart. The ongoing lack of a federal strategy to deal with COVID-19, the mistrust he has cultivated about scientific evidence, his blatant politicization of masks and social distancing, all have crippled the nation's ability to meet this crisis head-on.

Early on in the pandemic Trump deliberately turned states against one another, in a Hunger Games-style scramble for needed resources, creating needless havoc. Even now, having contracted the disease, he continues to downplay its severity, jeopardizing those around him and turning the White House itself into a hot spot.

But it's not just his handling of COVID. Trump is attempting even now to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, whose protections millions of Americans have come to depend on. Yet in four years he has never produced a plan to replace it.

He has rejected and denigrated science and American institutions at every turn. He has openly attacked the integrity of the election and actively works to undermine it. His coded appeals to white nationalists have emboldened them while deepening racial tensions.

Trump also has saddled this country with a crippling level of debt, resulting from tax cuts that primarily benefited those who least needed the help. He gets credit for a needed reset on runaway globalization, but his go-it-alone approach vis-a-vis China has proved ineffective and his trade war, with its retaliatory tariffs, has shredded our relationships with allies and hurt some of Minnesota's top companies.

The world has lost precious years in the fight to mitigate climate change, and here too Trump has been a denialist even as the evidence of such change rages all around us.

Biden's record of service is a testament to the enduring power of relationships, listening, and the search for common ground. His empathy, positivity, belief in American values and in the best of humanity will be a welcome balm to a nation nearly sundered by polarization. His ability to reach out to the other side is evidenced by a phenomenon without precedent: prominent Republicans who have stepped forward to support his bid.

That's in part because Biden is a moderate, despite Trump's slanderous efforts to characterize him as some wild-eyed radical socialist. His plan for the economy would restore a needed emphasis on the middle class. Trump's own alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, analyzed Biden's plan and concluded it would lead to faster economic growth, higher wages for American workers and a reduced debt. The former vice president would move to refine and improve the ACA, just as this country has done with every other major piece of legislation over its history. He would bring competence and expertise back to federal agencies hollowed out by the grifters and bunglers Trump installed.

Biden recognizes climate change for the priority it is, and would marshal resources and return science to the White House. His polices are tempered by a focus on what's possible. On climate change, the goal is well within reach: achieve a carbon-neutral nation by 2050 and rejoin the Paris accord.

On the economy, we have in Biden someone who helped steer the nation out of the Great Recession, who was a driving force in building the most durable recovery in modern history. He doesn't shy away from tough decisions nor engage in wishful thinking.

He would roll back the Trump tax cuts on those making more than $400,000. Minnesotans know that approach works because it was a tax increase on the highest wage earners that put this state's budget back in the black and rebuilt the very reserves the state now is depending on to see it through the current crisis.

America cannot endure another four years of division, chaos, corruption, norm-breaking, rule-breaking, hatred toward immigrants, and lies and incompetence. Biden, along with the well-qualified vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris, represents a chance to return to cherished American ideals, to call out the best in all of us, and to resume this country's leadership role in the world as a stabilizing force.