In my lifetime there were two candidates who offered real change. One was George McGovern and the other Bobby Kennedy. Neither was electable. One's campaign was cut down by the felonious Nixon administration; the other by an assassin's bullet.
There are four qualities or characteristics that we examine in selecting a presidential nominee. They are positions on the issues, personality-trust, electability, and propensity to advance fundamental change.
We rarely get past the first two qualities. For each voter, the candidate's positions on critical issues such as choice, war, support of public education, and free speech rule out the vast majority of candidates. Left with only two or three serious contenders, the issue of personality takes hold. And then we move on to the hypothetical match-ups where the pundits speculate as to which candidates do best against the various nominees of the opposing party.
Consequently, it is unusual to view a candidate through the prism of fundamental change.
Few candidates offer themselves up as advocates of change. When they do, it is not as a catalyst for progress but as part of a rant against the bureaucracy, usually the pledge to bring change to Washington.
Governors from both parties, like Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan promised change. Neither weakened the grip of the lobbyists, neither ended corporate welfare, neither advanced the cause of social and economic justice, though Carter tried.
Barack Obama provides the opportunity for the Democrats to nominate a candidate who is sound on the issues, has the personality and public trust to win, and is promises fundamental change. On issues from war to poverty, economic development to the environment, Obama knows the priorities.
Most importantly his campaign statements and his performance as a United States Senator demonstrates he appreciates the narrow path a president must navigate to stand on principle and to compromise when required.
There is no one thing that Obama has said or done that leads me to the conclusion that he is to be trusted in uncharted waters, but it is the compilation of his record.
- He was prepared to stand before popular sentiment in 2002 and 2003 and question the foundations for the war in Iraq.
- He understands that to combat poverty, we need to enhance the family and advance public education.
- He appreciates the problems created by NAFTA and that we need to make American products competitive abroad while we protect jobs in this country.
- He recognized the mistake made by Congress in compromising our civil rights and civil liberties in the overzealous attempt to ferret out terrorists.
i admire his appreciation for liberties and rights, his determination to get to the root of poverty, and his commitment to economic justice.
Most impressive was his judgment in questioning the premise of the Iraq war. He performed far better than the so-called more experienced and mature leaders who should have known better. That is why I trust him with our future.