In both humility and hope, this is my endorsement of Barack Obama for President of the United States of America.
Because he speaks so well for himself, I will quote his words from the prologue of his book, The Audacity of Hope:
...I am new enough on the national political scene that I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views. As such, I am bound to disappoint some, if not all, of them. Which perhaps indicates a second, more intimate theme to this book - namely how I, or anybody in public office, can avoid the pitfalls of fame, the hunger to please, the fear of loss, and thereby retain that kernal of truth, that singular voice within each of us that reminds us of our deepest commitments..."
Obama then submits before the reading public a portrait of himself as a three-dimensional, whole person, a human being, a man, a father, lawyer, legislator, husband, and son. It is his awareness of who he is, what he comes from, and where he is headed, as well as his astoundingly clear vision of the issues facing us and how to lead us through them, that resonate for me. In the third chapter of the book, entitled "Our Constitution" he writes:
The Constitutions system of checks and balances, separation of powers, and federalism may often lead to groups with fixed interests angling and sparring for narrow advantage, but it doesn't have to. Such diffusion of power may also force groups to take other interests into account and, indeed, may even alter over time how those groups think and feel about their own interests.
The rejection of absolutism implicit in our constitutional structure may sometimes make our politics seem unprincipled. But for most of our history it has encouraged the very process of information gathering, analysis, and argument that allows us to make better, if not perfect, choices , not only about the means to our ends but also about the ends themselves. Whether we are for or against affirmative action, for or against prayer in schools, we must test out our ideals, vision, and values against the realities of a common life, so that over time they may be refined, discarded, or replaced by new ideals, sharper visions, deeper values. Indeed, it is that process, according to Madison, that brought about the Constitution itself, through a convention in which "no man felt himself obliged to retain his opinions any longer than he was satisfied of their propriety and truth, and was open to the force of argument."
After studying, listening, watching, and reading this election period, I think I am beginning to understand why Oprah Winfrey said of Obama, "He's the one" - not because she meant to imply some messianic status to Barack Obama but, to the contrary, because she believes, as I have come to believe, that he is a man capable of leading the USA through one of the most difficult and challenging periods in our history, that he is the one we need to lead us into the 21st Century. This because, more than anything else, he is a man of humility, courage, and moderation; one who can encourage us, the entire nation of you and me, to have a conversation that will result in what American democracy was founded to do - ensure the Union's survival and that of our individual and collective liberty. Barack Obama is the one in which my hope now lies, the one that I will vote for come November 4th because I do believe that he may lead us, our children, and our children's children, in the direction of a solid future true to this country's highest aspirations.
That is not to say, of course, that he is the only one but, rather, that Barack Obama is only one of many who have played a crucial part in the formation and preservation of this democracy, and he is also one of the few, among those who have led us, capable of accomplishing greatness as a man - but, more importantly - capable of accomplishing the great task of navigating our country successfully through the formidable challenges of the 21st century.
I must share - I finished reading "Audacity of Hope". I put the book down, turned to my dearest companion, my husband, and said, "He is the one."
Please vote November 4th.