February 18, 2008

Austin American-Statesman Endorses Obama

Just this past week, I signed up to be a Precinct Captain for Obama in Austin, Texas. My precinct is 274, and our polling place is the First English Lutheran Church. I'm excited about getting out the vote for Obama and making a difference in Texas.

I've been practicing articulating why I support Obama, and what the differences are between him and Senator Clinton. A lot of Texas newspapers have endorsed Obama. Sometimes local newspapers are long on earnestness, but short on eloquence. I was happily surprised by the Statesman's thoughtful endorsement of Senator Obama to be the Democratic nominee for president. I'm including the full text here:

February 2, 2008

Time is right for his unifying vision: Yes, Obama can

Look closely at the two Democratic front-runners for president and you will see similarities in how they address challenging problems confronting the country. Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois both talk about strengthening the middle class, expanding economic growth and lifting sagging wages. Both offer solutions for the crisis in our health care system and global warming and support ending the war in Iraq. So the key differences between the candidates are in their leadership styles and visions for the country.

Obama presents a view of governing that is inclusive and relies on Americans to work with their government to solve sobering problems at home and abroad. Obama’s familiar refrain on the campaign trail is, “Yes, we can.” By contrast, Clinton promotes a self-centered governing style that drives home what she would do as president. She asks little of Americans and discourages opposing views. Clinton has moved from her position as first lady that it “takes a village” to solve problems to "it takes only Hillary (and maybe Bill)."

Those contrasts offer a clear choice: Barack Obama. His optimism, unifying vision and ability to inspire are the kind of healing balm the country needs at this moment in history. In two days, on “Super Tuesday,” 22 states will hold Democratic primaries and caucuses. The outcome of those contests might determine a winner. If not, the battle moves to Texas on March 4. Obama is the best pick Democrats could make.

Resolving the big issues confronting the nation requires a leader who can attract support from independents and Republicans. Of the two front runners, only Obama has shown the ability to bring divergent interests together. He did that as a state senator in Illinois and as a U.S. senator in Washington. And he has staked his presidential campaign on doing that in the White House. In endorsing Obama, the Chicago Tribune recently wrote this about his tenure in the Illinois Legislature: “In the minority party for all but his final two years in the Statehouse, he tempered a progressive agenda with a cold dash of realism, often forging consensus with conservative Republicans when other liberals wanted to crusade.”

Obama brought that style of leadership to Washington. He worked with Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., to sponsor and pass legislation that would assist taxpayers in tracking government spending - including earmarks and federal grants - with a Google-like search engine. Obama showed courage in opposing the Iraq war in 2002 as a candidate for the U.S. Senate, years before that was the popular position. He backs aggressive diplomacy in dealing with America’s adversaries, including talking to our enemies.

But he isn’t against the use of military might and continues to support the war in Afghanistan. We also believe that Obama is more electable than Clinton, who would no doubt energize dispirited Republican voters. That makes Obama a stronger nominee for the Democrats going into November. In another election, we might look for the kind of experience Clinton brings from her role as a U.S. senator and tenure as first lady. But these are different times. Abroad, the country is at war. The terrorism threat remains alarming. America’s moral standing has been diminished by Guantanamo and the Iraqi occupation. At home, we’re divided into red and blue camps. Democrats and Republicans have stoked divisions to advance their party’s interests. Meanwhile, Washington is stumbling along with its red leg moving right and blue one lurching left.

Along the way, elected officials - and the public - have forgotten that those legs are part of the same body. It’s not surprising, therefore, that we’ve danced in place, failing to make progress on the big challenges that confront our country. Young people, disillusioned and disheartened with their government, have tuned out. No other candidate except Obama offers a way out of that rut. He has articulated a vision that would allow the legs of government to again move fluidly in a natural motion that takes the country forward.

Young people hungry for purpose have flocked to Obama rallies in rock concert numbers. They’re not just cheering but volunteering. Older people, especially African Americans, send small donations and passages from Scripture as they look to him to fulfill America’s promise. Like a veteran slugger on deck, Hillary Clinton has campaigned principally on the logic that it is her turn at bat. Democrats must resist the instinct to select the next in line and grab instead the best hitter on the bench. That is Barack Obama.

No comments: