It is not surprising that we are endorsing Barack Obama for president; it is surprising, in the paradigm of modern politics, that he could get elected.
There is little doubt that Obama is a media darling or that he has run a fantastically effective campaign, and perhaps to the cynical eye it would not be hard to dismiss him as little more than a really good politician; but to us, this is real.
Obama has galvanized Americans across generations, races and socioeconomic classes. His eloquence and ability to lead is easily impressive, as is his platform, but what is most revolutionary is not what he says but what he exudes.
His youthful enthusiasm is refreshing while his sober restraint is comforting, and together they form a strikingly new presidential candidate. Obama appeals us on both an intellectual level and a visceral one. It is a combination of these things that make Obama, well, presidential.
The approach to the economy that Obama has taken, with a plan that will ease the burden of the middle class, is well-founded. His vote against the Iraq war gives him credibility and demonstrates his judgment. But there is another dimension to our support of the junior senator from Illinois.
It is easy to pick apart any candidate based on pieces of his or her platform, and while the issues are important, there is more at stake when voting for our next president. A candidate’s demeanor and his or her ability and willingness to recognize the complexity of a situation are of paramount importance in our increasingly interdependent world.
While we disagree with Obama’s position on gay marriage, for example — he favors civil unions — we have come to see that this presidential candidate has the nuanced nature to rise above polarized issues. Does that make him slick or cavalier? Just the opposite.
The campaigns of both of the major candidates also reflect heavily on the type of president that they would be if elected. McCain has continuously relied on scare tactics and slander while Obama has focused on the future and our need for change.
Obama is a transformational figure, but he’s no messiah. The possibilities for his presidency are breathtaking but the magical aspects of his candidacy are also due, in part, to us: his supporters. In this pivotal moment in our country’s history it is just as important to look around and realize the power of an active democracy as it is to look up at the presidency.
The world is in the midst of many astounding challenges, but all around us we have seen the beginnings of transformation. An Obama presidency would demonstrate that we are moving beyond the politics of isolated absolutism and antagonistic punditry.
We need to get this country back on track, we need to restore our civil and human rights, we need to restore our standing in the world and we need to address these huge problems that are breathing down our necks. And while that is a tall order, an order which will require not just the attention of a president but the effort of a nation, electing Obama as our next president would be a great leap in that direction.