Just a few days away from that sacred civic duty and I am putting some last thoughts together regarding the what and why I choose Obama.
I thought about the style in which I should do this. At first I thought I might compare the voting records of each candidate and cite them side by side, but it is so easy to get into a finger pointing match back and forth that can be unproductive. And when you start looking at what is added to each bill before a vote it makes you understand a little more of how and why one might not vote for something that would normally seem obvious. Its just not that simple. Suffice it to say, I prefer the choices that Obama has made more than McCain.
I also thought about dredging up all the unsavory and gossipy stories and conspiracy theories that have kept us entertained the last eighteen months, but why go there when it really isn't that productive. And haven't we had enough ugliness from those who would rather tear down than build up, cast shadows instead of dealing in the light?
So instead I choose to point out the qualities that I find valuable. Qualities that I think are necessary in bringing this country into the next part of history in ways that will impact not just us, and our children, but the rest of the world for the better. These are not in order of importance, but as a sum complete the measure of what I think Obama embodies.
Anybody who has done any reading on leadership, either in the church or in business in the last few years knows that the world has experienced a seismic shift from a top down hyerarchy style leadership model to a laterally driven team model. Obama displays this quality in both the economic team he has surrounded himself with as well as how his campaign has functioned. In my opinion the last thing we need is a top down, roguish style leader, even when you give it a sexy brand name like "Maverick". We are a long way from a simplistic wild west where such a thing may have worked. Now we need someone who is willing to humble himself and take the advice of the best and brightest around him. And to be able to assemble that team in the first place.
Being able to inspire.
This is a rare quality that I think we need right now in our leader. This is a characteristic I have seen displayed in my husband during years of ministry and is clearly present in Barrack Obama. When someone has the ability to bring forth the best out of those around them, showing them that they can rise to the occasion and produce great things... well, that is an inspiring thing to watch. Not only does it leave those involved feeling empowered and valued, but it gets much more accomplished for the good. The ability to inspire and to lead in team is another plus for bringing the parties together. Alienating people at the onset by being a "maverick" just wont work.
Quick to listen, slow to anger.
I think this is so important for a leader that has to navigate issues in a post-modern world. Understanding that this time in history where modern thought has crossed into the post-modern is crucial in a host of issues, from knowing how in which to communicate to the next generation as well as knowing how to use language in diplomacy with unsavory leaders that might threaten our country.
He does not deal in absolutes.
Not dealing in absolutes may sound anti-christian. On the contrary, the example Jesus left us was speech and action highly nuanced in persuading each person he encountered. Face to face. So when it comes to making laws in this country that legislate morality I think there is more of a risk of destroying freedom in order to get people to behave a certain way. And history has shown us that it doesn't work. Think prohibition. Don't get me wrong, I am pro-life. But I find it encouraging that Obama comes at these issues from the standpoint that the work must be done in prevention and support and social justice rather than dealing with the absolute... an arguably easier road. Life and the world are multi-layered and complicated and it is very easy to take someone's choices away as a matter of principle until you are faced with that same difficult choice. It is the difference between law and grace, arrogance and humility. And dealing in absolutes so often closes doors instead of allowing progress to be made. Think of Jesus writing in the sand.
How he treats his wife.
This may seem a little weird in regards to the leader of the free world, but I think how a man treats his wife speaks to his integrity, humility, and the way he treats others. Again I see a man like my husband when I watch Obama. It might sound silly and it is in subtle ways that one sees it... following Michelle on to a stage rather than storming ahead of her. The respect that is shown her, the way they appear to be equals. In contrast, I have a really hard time with how McCain appears with his present wife and frankly the way he navigated the ins and outs of his marriages. I don't think being a pow gives anyone a free pass to infidelity. I could maybe even forgive a slip, but it is the abandonment of his first wife for his second that I just can't put aside. It speaks to the issue of trust, vanity, and greed. I don't think being opportunistic is a positive thing for a leader in the times we live in and in my opinion McCain tends to be opportunistic.
Understanding current technology.
This in part speaks to age, but not completely. I think a person of McCain's age could overcome this limitation if they so choose, but he has proven that he has not. We need someone who is well versed in a world of Facebook, YouTube, Google, and even the game Eve. Some of the most interesting economic, moral, diplomatic and social questions may be coming out of that global virtual game. It is a technology driven world and we need someone who can keep up and speaks the language.
This one speaks specifically to matters like the future of Supreme Court and those selections. Being Harvard law is a real plus for Obama in my mind. Knowing the nuances of our justice system will serve well here. And the fact that Michelle is similar in education is another plus. Two for the price of one. The differences in education of the two candidates(and where they ranked in their class) I think really matters. It speaks to intelligence, perserverance, and hard work.
Obama uniquely represents us in his heritage.
Walking in another person's shoes provides perspective that only experience can bring. Obama embodies many people (black, white, american, and international) and from different economic backgrounds. I think that makes him a greater asset in crossing international and racial divides (yes, with diplomacy). He can speak to many types of people and have true empathy. McCain's privilege puts him at a disadvantage in relating in these broad spectrums.Obama is a living example that what we call "the American Dream" can actually exist.
Walking the tightrope of who to pick as VP made Obama the winner in the judgement category in my mind. Balancing the ticket with Joe Biden, the most experienced of the presidential candidates in foreign policy showed wisdom on Obama's part. Again, willing to work in team with someone his senior and not be threatened or arrogant speaks volumes to me. They display an intelligent synergy that is lacking in the other campaign. In my opinion McCain's pick of Palin was another opportunistic move made for the politics of the moment, and now I think it has hurt him. I won't go into my opinion about her here but lets just say if I had been supporting McCain I would be one of those that would have switched my vote because of her.
Getting stuff done.
For all the commenting on Obama's "inexperience" he sure has accomplished a lot in a short period of time. On par when you compare the ratio of authoring bills, voting, being published, speaking(and we aren't talking about campaigning) the last two years of productivity of both candidates leaves McCain lacking. Maybe it is due to youth, exuberance, or something else... whatever IT is, we need it now more than ever from our leader.
Military vs non-military.
I know that our country is somewhat polarized when it comes to this issue, but I think it is for good reason. Passions are high when lives are lost. What we choose to do in this category speaks to generations to come. If we took an aboriginal approach of making decisions thinking "seven generations out", we might be a little more prudent. I feel that having a born-bred-and fed military man in the position of control will not be good for renewing our honor in the world. Again, a broader perspective of our allies, enemies, and those in between may help reshape and restore. Maybe putting hope over fear will make us wiser and more prudent.
Well, these are a few of my musings regarding why I choose Obama. He is like my husband in so many ways. Honesty, integrity, compassion, wisdom, patience, temperance, intelligence. I have chosen not to use words like left-wing, right-wing, liberal or conservative because frankly I don't think they apply anymore except to be used in an inflamatory slur. The candidates are who they are and do what they do...
From the day that Obama's cousin Kevin sat at my dining room table talking for two hours about home, faith, and how people might be better, I have been watching Obama (just like I promised, Kevin).
And now I plan to vote for him.