- My selection is largely a "process of elimination" choice. Obama was not my first choice for President -- that was Al Gore. Nor was he my second choice -- that was Wesley Clark. No was he my third choice -- that was Russ Feingold. Unfortunately, neither Gore, Clark, or Feingold are running in this race. I am thus forced to choose among the field of candidates who are. Wesley Clark has endorsed Clinton, but I had already made my mind up about her. John Edwards has said a lot of things that appeal to me, but his abrupt shift on foreign policy leaves me wondering whether it is sincere or whether it is for the sake of the campaign. I don't know. I do know that he co-sponsored the Iraq War legislation which gave President Bush authorization to invade (despite what the Clintons now claim). That leaves Obama.
- Barack Obama represents a break from the past that Hillary Clinton cannot offer. I was never terribly enamored with President Clinton. I felt that too often he sold out his principles for short term political gain. Many of those sell-outs have had long term political consequences. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 is a prime example. The Communications Decency Act was, thankfully, overturned by the Supreme Court, but it's another example of Clinton selling out his principles. I could go into numerous examples, but I'll just link this article which explains it all pretty well.
- Two words: Ted Sorensen.
- Obama's campaign has made several seemingly small gestures which, taken as a whole, add up to a portrait of a candidate who is concerned with more than just courting large donors or broad demographics, but with individual people. My own experience (and there are many people with stories like mine) is this: in 2005, when Obama was a new senator, he held a meeting with constituents in Belleville, IL. I was stationed at Scott AFB and had, during the campaign, cast an absentee ballot from Qatar on which I voted for Obama for Senate (and was quite pleased to do so). I went to see Obama at this meeting and listened to him speak and field questions. Afterward, I went up to shake his hand, but I had to jump ahead a couple of times, since I missed him, and when he finally did shake my hand, it was sort of a wet fish, and he didn't look me in the eye. That left me with a sour taste in my mouth, although I resolved that that alone wasn't going to color my entire outlook on him. Still, I relayed the message to my family back home shortly before I went to Iraq. A few months later, I received a letter from the Obama campaign in which Sen. Obama apologized for missing me on the line and expressed his deep respect for people in uniform. I later found out that my sister had notified the campaign of my experience and that she thought that a letter from the campaign would lift my spirits while I was in Iraq. The gesture from my sister meant more, but the gesture from the campaign counted a lot for me, as well. It was a small, easy gesture, but it was one that told me that every vote, every citizen, even a lowly Staff Sergeant like me, matters to this campaign. That counts for a lot. At the time, it didn't immediately sway me to his camp, but... no other campaign has shown me the interest in not only listening to what we have to say, but responding.
- Over the summer, I read a quote by Mark Twain (via a friend's MySpace profile): "Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can somehow become great." I also read a book about the Kennedys, and I realized that what America needed was a President who could make the American people feel that we, too, can somehow be great. Hillary Clinton doesn't do that. She talks about "false hope" and belittles the civil rights movement (and MLK specifically) saying that "it took a President" to get civil rights legislation accomplished. Barack Obama inspires people, and to me, that is the most important role that a President can play: not simply managing the government as President Clinton did, but to inspire the American people to rise to greater heights than we ever have before. Clinton is wrong; it didn't "take a President to get it done". It took a movement to push a President to do the right thing. It took the power of the American people. So if Sen Clinton thinks that real power comes from top down, then I'll let her test that theory in the primaries. I think that real power comes from the bottom up, "a mandate from the masses", to quote Monty Python. I believe that Barack Obama sees it that way, too.
- What happened to the Baby Boomers? They've gone from John Lennon's Imagine to phrases like "false hope" and "can we have a reality break?" I hate to think that Hillary Clinton is representative of her entire generation, but I've come to the conclusion that leadership which is incapable of dreaming of a better future needs to step aside and let those who have not yet been jaded and embittered by battles lost take the lead and move forward. The Clintons' leadership has lead us down a path which has inspired, instead, A Perfect Circle's cover of Imagine.