Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yes We Can

So we are finally here. Election Day 2008. It has been such an incredibly long campaign, stretching nearly two years. The Republicans started out with so many candidates -- Guiliani, Romney, Thompson, Huckabee, Paul, McCain -- before John McCain emerged as the nominee. The Democrats saw a long battle between Obama and Hillary Clinton before Obama finally clinched the nomination in June.

The interest level of the American people this election cycle has just been enormous. Much of the interest has to do with the unpopularity of George W. Bush and the desire among an overwhelming majority of Americans to move in a new direction. And regardless of which candidate the electorate decides is the best agent to bring forth that change, getting the American people engaged, motivated and participating in the process to select its leaders is a huge positive step forward.

Obviously on a personal level I am moved by the potential of a Barack Obama presidency. He appeals to me on an intellectual level as a man who thoughtfully takes in multiple points of view before making a decision. Although he lacks experience on an executive level, I admire the way he has managed a $700M campaign and stuck to a consistent message of how he will lead. On the issues I share his view for helping out the middle class with tax relief, ending the war in Iraq responsibly, and investing in our children's future with infrastructure, renewable energy and education. I do not believe that we can continue to saddle our kids and grandkids with debt and have nothing to show for it besides a corrupt winner-take-all economic system, a tax system skewed to the wealthiest 2% of Americans, and a tattered image across the world.

Barack Obama is not without his flaws, and his task would be enormous. His record is not dotted with examples of reaching across the aisle to form bipartisan legislative solutions. He will not be able to deliver on all the promises he has made in the campaign -- most notably universal health care. As a liberal, Obama cannot succumb to the temptation of the familiar -- to dust off decades old liberal policies in order to dig us out of the ditch we are in. And the path ahead is going to be extraordinarily difficult given that we face a mountain of debt with the $700B bailout plan and rising costs of entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.

That said, what will it take to lead us through the tough challenges in the future? The answer is the one thing that we have been so starkly missing the past eight years -- leadership. Leadership is not surrounding yourself with ideologues who share your view of the world, sticking with decisions when they have been proven to be the wrong ones, working to undermine the Constitution so you can get your way, or using fear as a powerful political weapon to secure power.

Leadership is having the temperament, judgment, intellectual curiosity, and skill to carry out difficult decisions that face us. It involves talking with people that do not agree with us, trying to bring people into the fold instead of building walls around us to keep people out. And that is not an easy thing to do. Naturally we are more comfortable with people who think like us, look like us, and share most if not all of our values. But in this flattening world that we live in, opening ourselves up to the diversity of thought and ideas is something to embrace, not reject. Barack Obama has shown throughout the campaign that he possesses these qualities.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend Obama's rally in Raleigh where people waited outside in the freezing cold for hours to get a chance to see him. The cross-section of people who have felt inspired by Obama's promise was unbelievable. At least half of the crowd was African-American, and I was blown away at the enthusiasm that the black community feels for Obama.

But beyond race, it was inspiring to see people of all walks of life unite around Obama's message. Young and old, complete strangers were talking, engaging, dancing, laughing -- all of them united not by fear of what they perceive the other side would bring but by the hope that their candidate could bring.

I for one hope that America chooses hope over fear.

Yes We Can.

Obama in Raleigh:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very well spoken and very true, Derek. I totally agree! GJ