This presidential election I have decided to support Barack Obama for president, and would like to put some of the reasons for that support down on paper.
A couple of days ago I read a biography of Obama. The significant points that stayed with me are these: First, his mother is from Wichita, Kansas, and his father is from Kenya. They were divorced when he was very young, and have both died. Growing up, he lived in Indonesia for a time, and has visited relatives in Kenya. His parents met, and he was born, in Hawaii, where they both went to school. He got a degree in political science, and first entered politics when Clinton was first elected president in that he helped to register voters in Chicago. Because of this he was elected to the Illinois State Legislature. When the war with Iraq was announced he was upset, denouncing it in the State legislature. Then he ran for the U.S. Senate from Illinois and was elected. He won the primary in a close vote (with 52% of the vote, as I recall). However, the Republican candidate resigned (I don't remember the reason, only that it was his personal decision, and I wouldn't have) and was replaced. The result is he won the Senatorial election by just short of 75% of the vote.
In addition to these facts, I have heard Obama speak a couple of times over the Internet. The result is that I will give him my positive support. That is, I will support Obama because of who he is, not because he is not McCain.
There are several reasons for this. First and foremost, Obama has a positive message for America, and the world. It is a message of uniting to fight common problems, such as global warming, etc. Obama has shown that he cares what the people think, in that he has had meetings around the country to help decide what the platform for the Democratic Party should contain. As far as I know, he's the first presidential candidate to do that.
Obama has shown an ability to understand and use the Internet. While someone, particularly a Republican, might say this is not relevant, I think it is. The reason is that the Internet is a reality of modern day life. This is being written for the Internet, so anyone seeing it should understand that this is so. When I was mentioning the Internet to my daughter who is in College, she told me that the people she commutes with to her summer job always talk about the news they've heard on the Internet on their way home from work. This, alone, doesn't prove my point, but repeated over and over again, it does.
Obama's use of the Internet has allowed him to collect money for his campaign from a large number of small donors rather than a few large corporate interests. In addition, as I have said, I heard and saw Obama speak because of the Internet.
Reports I've seen of Obama's work in Chicago (mentioned above) tends to indicate that he is into uniting people, not dividing people. When George W. Bush was first elected, he claimed to be into uniting people, but his actions, in reality, have proved otherwise. It may be that having such a close Democratic primary may actually work to Obama's advantage because he can use this to demonstrate his ability to unite people.
He has spent time actually living in other countries, Indonesia in particular, and has visited Kenya. This makes him more qualified in Foreign relations than any presidential candidate we've had in modern history. The reason is that he has had an opportunity to see the image the United States is projecting first hand. Last year my daughter spend a year is Spain, and I have visited friends in Taiwan. Doing this gives people a much better view of the United States because they have an opportunity to see what the rest of the world is like. (I dare say that simply visiting another country as a tourist does not give you that advantage.)
I've heard some Republicans (and maybe some Democrats, for that matter) say that his foreign relations experience is limited. In reality, this “limitation” is only in that he has not bought into the persona that people who have never left this country think we project. For me, I recall visiting Taiwan in 1982, and seeing children there playing with games that were introduced into the United States in about 1990, and I would believe that the majority of people in the United States would have assumed these games were invented here.
(I suppose one could also point out the fiasco of browser encryption. That is, the United States had at least a rule on the books [until Clinton reversed it] that encryption technology could not be exported from the United States. The problem was that the technology we're talking about was developed in Australia, and was available there. In fact, I was told that because of the export ban, the more secure technologies were withheld from the United States, and for a long time the United States had relatively insecure 64 bit encryption, whereas the rest of the world has 128 bit encryption and better.)
Obama also has come out in favor of supporting environmental issues, in particular the issue of climate change and global warming. This is a potentially deadly problem that the Bush has ignored, and, even worse, actively opposed. The issue is truth. At some point, the truth must be recognized, kind of like the person in a canoe upstream from a waterfall. You can ignore it, but eventually the truth of its existence will be be made known, either when you choose to recognized it, or when the canoe is halfway down the cliff, or, worse yet, when your face hits the rocks at the bottom.
In addition, there are negative reasons. That is, I remember seeing comments to the affect that Obama didn't appose the war in Iraq in the Senate until a year after the war started. The implication was that Obama was using the war in an opportunistic fashion. While this statement is obviously true, it is irrelevant. That is, Obama didn't appose the war in the senate because he opposed it in the Illinois legislature. He wasn't in the Senate until a year after the war started. If someone lies, who can they expect me to believe them in the future?
The real issue in this upcoming election is whether or not people want to continue with this experiment called the United States. McCain has promised to continue Bush's failed policies, including selling our country to the highest bidder. This cannot continue, because at some point the buyers are going to want to get something for their money. Obama promises policies that may change that. My fear is that it may already be too late.