Eleven days from now, I expect to cast my vote for Barack Obama for President of the United States for these reasons:
When he graduated from Harvard law school at the top of his class he could have started a career with any number of big law firms with a six-figure salary from day one. By now, his energy, focus and intelligence would have made him a powerful, very wealthy figure in the legal world.
He didn’t take the course most men would have chosen. Instead, he became a community organizer — a welfare job — in a rough part of Chicago; a poorly paid position that appealed to him because he wanted to help people overcome their social, economic and health problems. For the same reasons, he went from there into politics rather than corporate law.
These qualities of character seem to be greatly needed in our society at this juncture in our history. Our economy is in a mess today because far too many of the nation’s top business executives took far too much risk, largely with other people’s money, in the pursuit of enormous wealth. They were accommodated by a political philosophy in Washington that opposed regulation, reduced the taxes on the very rich and made it easy for the high-rollers to create bubble economies that burst and decimated the life savings of hundreds of millions of working men and women.
An Obama administration would propose regulations that would make a repeat of this disaster impossible and urge Congress to put them into effect.
I will vote for Obama because his life experience demonstrates, as the lives of very few of us can, that it is possible for a man of mixed race, raised by a single mother and his grandparents, to rise up from modest circumstances, graduate from one of the world’s most prestigious universities and become the presidential nominee of a major political party in the most powerful nation on earth.
What a glowing testimony to America!
Because Obama didn’t come from the nation’s elite but represents one of America’s most persecuted minorities, because he had the unique experience of growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia and chose to work for and with the nation’s underclass he will have enormous credibility as a transformational leader with the rest of the world. As president, Obama would come into office without the baggage of the last eight years on his shoulders and find doors open to him in the trouble spots of the world which would be closed to John McCain.
I will vote for Obama because partnership, consultation and consensus-building are the tools he would use to govern. He is not afraid to have strong men and women around him, presenting differing points of view and then hammering out a decision all can agree upon. He would never say, “I am the decider,” as President George W. Bush did at a Landon Lecture at Kansas State University.
It is possible to imagine a profound shift away from arrogant partisanship in our nation’s capital under a President Obama. It is reasonable to hope that reasoned argument would take its place and that the good of the nation would take priority over ideology.
I will vote for Obama because I am convinced beyond doubt that the nation’s government needs change from top to bottom. As David Gerken wrote in yesterday’s Iola (Ks) Register, the people who are running things now in both the private and the public sectors don’t have the respect of the public — and don’t deserve respect because they are so apt to be both self-centered and incompetent.
Judging by the people Obama has around him and those who have endorsed his candidacy, an Obama administration would bring into government outstanding men and women who would, like the man who appointed them, put the good of the nation first and themselves second. The example his administration would set would surely spread to the business world and beyond, or so sweet reason allows us to hope.
I will vote for Obama because he is eloquent and inspiring. Those are great gifts for a leader to have when he takes over a country where trust has vanished, fear is endemic and partisanship is so fierce.
And, finally, I will vote for Obama because he represents a new generation and would bring fresh ideas and the energy of youth into the White House.
Emerson Lynn, Jr, Iola (Kansas) Register
Editor’s Note: The author is editor emeritus of the Iola Register and a long-time Republican in the moderate tradition of Kansas Sens. James Pearson and Sens. Nancy Landon Kasselbaum. He’s also my Dad.