Monday, February 04, 2008

The Unknown Candidate: Why I'm Voting For Barack Obama | Part One

Head vs. heart. Mind vs. Emotion. Practical vs. wishful-thinking. Change vs. Politics-as-Usual. A leader vs. a politician. My decision to end my anonymous Presidential campaign and throw my support behind Barack Obama has not come quickly or easily as I grappled with the pros and cons of various candidates. There are no perfect choices. But it all boiled down to this: Barack Obama is one of those rare leaders who come around none too often in life. And, thankfully, he has emerged at a time when we desperately need a great leader as opposed to a good politician.

America is disheartened, disillusioned, beaten down and depressed after seven endless years of enduring the results of the worst policies of any President in our history. We have lost faith in our elections and our politicians. We rightfully feel as if someone has pulled the rug out from under everything we once believed made America, well, America. And we do indeed stand at a crossroad in this election.

The best decisions I have made in life were those that came from my gut, not my brain. Admittedly, my decision to support Barack Obama comes from my heart more than from my head. It comes from a deep longing for a return to civility -- not to be confused with compromise -- in America. It comes from a deep longing for a leader who represents positive values, who embraces all Americans, who has the ability to inspire us to WANT to be the best we can be. Barack Obama has that ability. John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther were two of the most influential people in my life because they inspired me on a visceral level to aspire to accomplish what once seemed impossible to attain. They convinced me that real change comes from a belief in our collective selves and that when we pull together, we can do anything. They convinced me to BE THE CHANGE I wanted.

In sports, an egotistical super-star who isn't a team player will more often than not lead his team to failure, while a team that pulls together with a common focus on winning has a good chance of doing just that. Making an analogy, Hillary Clinton is the egotistical super star while Barack Obama is the inspirational coach of the other team. Which team would you want to be on? The one where the superstar arrogantly butts heads with those who disagree with her? Or the team with the charismatic leader who inspires every one of YOU to be superstars?

Admittedly, part of my decision to support Obama involves a leap of faith. He is the greater unknown in terms of his ability to deliver on his campaign promises -- and beyond. And this is where my heart takes over from my head. I can't know, but I truly believe he is capable of transforming our severely depressed nation into an optimistic one capable of true progressive change. No, his public policies don't indicate the kind of bold, new progressive ideas I wish they did. But then I think back to when John F. Kennedy was running for president as a relative unknown candidate who was deemed by his critics to be "too young," and "too inexperienced." His speeches were hugely inspirational and hugely lacking in detailed, big, bold policies. Once in office, he challenged a nation to put a man on the moon and introduced the Peace Corps. Had his presidency not been cut so tragically short, it is likely that he would have accomplished much more, including ending the war in Vietnam.

My hope is that the reason for Obama's rather less than bold platform is a politically strategic one: in order to appeal to a broad base and put together a broad coalition of support, why rock the boat BEFORE he is elected by revealing big, bold policy initiatives which will only be attacked and dissected endlessly and perhaps permanently wounded by his political opponents? Rather, why not tap into what the majority of Americans are FEELING, tap into their frustration and despair, thereby inspiring them to demand the kind of bold policies he -- and they -- truly want?

One thing I do know. Nothing will change in the way politics are conducted in Washington should Hillary Clinton be elected. Special interests will likely remain strong and continue to unduly influence policies. Our foreign policy will not likely change in any substantive way. Change, if there is any, will be slow, adversarial, and in small increments. While there are never any guarantees, Obama is the only candidate with the leadership abilities necessary to actually effect significant progressive change. Whether he succeeds will largely depend on us: will we actively demand it? If we do, nothing can stop it. If we don't, we will have ourselves to blame.

In the past, my heart and my head were with Dennis Kucinich, whose bold, progressive policies most closely match my own. Kucinich's downfall was his lack of charismatic leadership and political acumen. When it comes to leading a nation -- much less a political campaign -- both are a necessity in order to accomplish transformational goals. Unfortunately, Kucinich is presently under attack by corporate interests and is fighting for his political life in his own state. I encourage each of you to contribute what you can -- monetarily and otherwise -- to help him to hold his congressional seat. We need Dennis Kucinich in Congress -- and a whole lot more like him.

As for the Presidential race, I urge all of you to look into your hearts, follow your gut, and vote in the coming primaries for the candidate best poised to bring about real progressive change. I hope you'll agree with me that Barak Obama is the candidate who deserves your vote.

(Stay tuned for more on my decision to support Obama.)

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1 comment:

WerepigzhedgeHoggz said...

Well 'SAID'! Well 'SAID'!!

'Mine' nnn`Nunkle!!!

Alwayz's 'ReMeMBeR'...'A' Great 'Leader', A 'GREAT' Voice...CAN 'Be'-Silenced!!!
WITHOUT 'THE' SUPPORT of 'ALL' Americanz's 'Black', 'Blue', 'Red', 'PURPLE', and 'White'!!!
'U.N.I.T.E.' Behind...THIS 'MAN'! 'For' THE 'GOOD' of j'Your 'Country' and j'Your-SELVEZ's (if 'Thadtz's WhadthFk?)...'It' Takez's (for j'You)...

'D>I>V>D>E>D'....[and...'We're, AS DIVIDED AS, 'iT' (non-Violently) 'gitz 'Folkz's]!

-'Abe'. Lincoln