And then there were two…

Obama and HillaryIt’s been quite a day in politics. Less than a week before “Super Tuesday,” John Edwards announced he is dropping out of contention for the Democratic Presidential candidacy.  In less than two months, the field of candidates has gone from five to two, and the primary season has only just begun.   And on the Republican side, Rudy Guliani has quit his campaign for his party’s nomination, leaving that slate to three front-runners: McCain, Romney and Huckabee, with Huckabee barely hanging on by a thread.

I’m disappointed that Edwards dropped out so early. I’ve always liked him, even when he ran with John Kerry in 2004. I felt as some others did that the ticket in that election should have been reversed. Kerry’s cardboard appearance was no match for Bush’s “Good ol’ boy” representation; and although Edwards came off as young and maybe a bit too “pretty,” I think he would have been a much better counter-balance to Bush’s tired act. But the argument at the time was that Edwards was “too young.” “too inexperienced.” “too new.”  This is his second failed attempt at the White House and although I would love to see him as a vice-presidential candidate; I fear his chance has now passed.

I don’t want to bash Edwards, but his reluctance to continue shows me he wasn’t cut out for the campaign from the start. I just never felt like his heart was in it like it should have been. His performance in the South Carolina debate was strong and I thought he would somehow rally and stay strong through Super Tuesday. But now as it approaches quickly, I, and the rest of us voting on February 5, are forced to make a decision.

Obama or Clinton?

I choose Barack Obama.

Obama is the best choice for a number of reasons. I believe in his ability to lead our nation. I believe he can restore the image of the USA to that of a good neighbor instead of a bully. I believe he can affect policy decisions to best support the wishes of the population. I also believe he can assemble the strongest group of administrators to support his vision to bring about these changes, improvements and directives.

Obama’s greatest weaknesses, in the eyes of some media and many of his opponents are that he is “young, inexperienced and new,” but I view these things as strengths as well. He doesn’t have years of experience in US office, but he has many years in state office. How many governors were elected to president after serving for years in their states, never having served in the US Senate? Experience is experience. It’s all about having the ability to serve the nation and do it with clarity and dignity.

And those are the things I like best about Obama. He is articulate, poised, and impressive. He is educated and astute. He represents to me the true face of America. The face of America that I want represented to the rest of the world.

As for Obama’s ability to address issues of the GLBT community, I believe that whatever he isn’t clear about now he will grow to understand in the future. He has historically been highly supportive of GLBT issues, and while he hasn’t been clear about gay marriage, I believe he will listen to his constitutents and make the right decision when it matters most. This is a huge difference in so many ways from what we’ve experienced in the last eight years. Instead of a president who listens only to his advisors, we would have a president who will listen to us. He is open to change because he believes in change. It’s that kind of open-minded thinking that belongs in the White House.

As to his electability, I really believe in my heart that this nation will stand behind him. The color of his skin is invisible to me. It always has been and always will be. I’m beginning to sense that this is becoming true for most of the rest of the nation as well. Of course there will be some staunch bigots that can never be changed, and that’s unfortunate– but it’s always been my belief that one has to look beyond the outside and see what’s inside. That’s what matters in the end.

Truth be told, I like both Obama and Hillary Clinton. I think they both represent an amazing sense of change in what the office of President represents for the country. The fact that two of the strongest candidates are a woman and a black man is downright thrilling considering this country’s history.

But I belive Barack Obama represents the President of the future, while Hillary Clinton represents a step backward. I can’t help but believe that by electing Hillary we are also re-electing Bill. And while I liked Bill Clinton, it just seems to me like it’s another George Bush all over again. Granted, of course, I much prefer another Clinton over another Bush; but all the same, enough is enough. Had she been anyone else, she might have had my vote; but it’s time for the dynasty-style stranglehold of the presidency to end. No more Bushes. No more Clintons. It’s time for something new. Obama is that something new we need.

I welcome your comments and opinions on this. It’s the most important election in our nation’s history, so no matter who we elect, we have to make sure we elect the right person.

I believe Barack Obama is the right person for the job. I’m proud to endorse him as my choice for President in 2008.

An Election of Firsts

It’s only the first week of January, there’s only been one primary and one caucus, and already this is shaping up to be one of the most exciting presidential elections in history.

Illinois has its primary election on Tuesday, February 5.  I still haven’t decided who will get my vote, and may not decide for at least another week or so.  My decisions hinge on a very small margin of issues vs. passion vs. viability as a candidate.  Certainly I’d like to vote for someone like Dennis Kucinich, who clearly is the favorite when it comes to gay-related issues; but in the public’s eye he never was a strong candidate to begin with, and his viability as a candidate is losing ground by the day.  John Edwards would be another strong possibility, but he hasn’t wowed me all that much with his message, and if he doesn’t pull off a fairly strong victory soon, he could be off the ballot by the time the polls open here.  Richardson ended his bid today, so he’s out.  Biden is out.  So that leaves Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, with Edwards as a close third.

The Democrats are definitely in the forefront, and it’s most exciting for a number of reasons: First, the party finally seems to have its finger squarely on the pulse of America for the first time in years. Second, the front-running candidates are all strong in their own ways and, were the election to happen tomorrow, I would be happy if any of them won. And third, the two front-runners represent a monumental turning-point in the typical view of what — and who — a presidential candidate is.  Gone are the expectations of “just another old white guy” to run the country.  We are now graced with the vision of a younger African-American man and a former First Lady– a woman.  Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton could certainly represent change in more ways than one.

The novelty of their being the front-runners is not what’s put them there.  Rather, it’s the strength of their message.  They are passionate about the office, passionate about the direction our country is headed, and passionate about making the changes necessary to get the country back on track.

That isn’t to say their fellow candidates aren’t as good or as passionate about their beliefs– they are.  That’s what’s so refreshing about this slate of Democratic candidates:  They seem to have somewhat unified goals, with minor variations on certain issues.  Truly, it’s about time the Democrats had some semblance of unity in their message.  It’s been a rough time getting to this point up until now.

Unfortunately, not everything is sunshine and roses.  Some campaigns are starting to cry foul that the media has already chosen its front-runners and have shut out the others.  Other complaints are coming in that the elections were “bought” by big money.  I don’t exactly see it this way.  It’s obvious the fundraising has been stronger for some candidates than others: Clinton exceeds everyone- Democrat and Republican- with a whopping $90 million raised as of Third Quarter 2007, with $50 million cash on hand.  Obama is a close second with $80 million total raised and $36 million cash on hand.  The Republicans are almost barely squeaking by in comparison, and the top cash raisers (Romney and Guliani) have yet to win a primary or come even close (source).

So while the numbers obviously show Clinton and Obama in the lead, I can’t see them sacrificing their campaigns for a few more votes.  I believe these candidates want this election to go as smoothly as possible, without the bumps and embarrassments of 2004 or 2000.  I’m hoping that as the convention day nears and the final candidate is chosen, there can be a unified agreement that the best candidate is going forward and representing all Democrats equally.  We may not get the candidate the answers our every need, but I do believe we will get a candidate that represents the country best for all of us.

So I’ll be voting on February 5, and on November 4.  And I believe there will be a lot of people voting for the change I’m hoping for as well.  It’s time… and we are so ready.