Thoughts on leadership... and my pick for the White House

Many Democrats picked their favorite Presidential candidate many a moon ago; others did so more recently. Many are undecided, with a few planning to withhold support until after our nominee is decided. Due to many factors - the state of our nation and its politics, the wide-openness of this election (with 18 major-party candidates), and the enormous burden that comes with the office - I have approached this decision carefully.

It is the duty of each citizen of our country to not only vote, but to give serious consideration as to who is best fit for each office before they vote. After all, to vote for someone is to place in them a certain amount of trust. Is there any greater political trust than supporting someone's goal to take the reins of the White House?

Not everyone is ready to lead even a small group or club. Far fewer are capable of bearing the immense burden that comes with leading this nation of 300,000,000+ people. The circumstances that will face America's next President make it all the more critical that none but a very capable leader take on this role. This person must have the leadership skills needed to help return dignity to the Oval Office, raise the bar for our politics, and restore in each of us a sense of pride as to what it truly means to be an American.

So, I mentioned the word 'leadership.' 'Leadership' is a word that is tossed around so loosely nowadays that I think many have forgotten its true meaning. Here's what that word means to me.

A good leader has certain qualities. They must be courageous and honest, saying and doing not what people want said or done, but what needs to be said and done. Leaders must have unquestionable integrity and good character. They must understand that they are a role model - that people emulate what their leaders do. They must hold themselves and others accountable, and demonstrate sound judgment. They must learn from the past, understand the present, and have a clear vision for the future - yet at the same time be open to new ideas. Above all, however, they must be worthy of the trust people place in them by choosing them to fulfill a leadership role.

Unfortunately, few political leaders nowadays have shown that they possess these characteristics. Yet these characteristics are critical when it comes to leading this nation. Consider this: The President of this great country is called upon to make numerous important decisions the effects of which will last for generations: when our Armed Forces should be deployed, who should serve on the Supreme Court, what to make of each day's intelligence briefings, how to go about pushing a piece of legislation, what the upcoming fiscal year's budget will look like, when and where to go on diplomatic trips, what nonpolitical causes to support, etc.

To me, when it comes to having the characteristics, vision, and judgment we ought to expect in the leader of this great country we call America, one person stands out above the rest. Drumroll please...

That candidate is Barack Obama.

It is clear to me that, more than anyone else running for President, Obama is the type of leader these times demand.


On so many issues, Obama offers new angles to solving problems that I have not heard from many other campaigns. For example, his Iraq plan goes beyond the standard "bring-our-troops-home" answer. On his website, Obama discusses how our 'covenant with seniors' extends beyond protecting Social Security and fixing healthcare. His plan to fight poverty is very detailed and shows the importance of improving jobs, education, and healthcare when it comes to ending poverty.

Though he was only a state senator at the time, Obama opposed the war from the beginning - something Edwards, Clinton, Biden, and Dodd can't say. His opposition to the war from the start hows sound judgment on Obama's part.

I could go on about his many plans for this nation, but one thing is clear to me: Obama's vision is the most detailed, the most comprehensive, and the clearest of any of the candidates'.


Regarding experience, let me make two points. First, political experience is not the only qualification. Each President is influenced more by his/her nonpolitical experiences than their political ones. JFK, Ford, and others brought their World War II experience to the White House. Carter and many others were influenced by their work on the farm. If elected, Obama will bring to the Oval Office his experience as a community organizer, professor, and attorney in Chicago, as well as lessons learned in both the Illinois Senate and in Washington.

Second, years in elective office do not necessarily make someone more qualified for the job. If it did matter, then why don't we consider George H.W. Bush to have been a darn good President, with Eisenhower and Lincoln each thought of as epitomes of lousiness? More on that here.


The key question on many Democrats' minds is, who is the most electable come next November? With quite a few more Americans calling themselves Democrats than Republicans, one would expect that our party has a distinct advantage when it comes to winning the Presidency next fall. While I agree that we do have the advantage, let's remember that Michigan was favored to defeat Appalachian State - and weirder things happen in politics than in sports.

Countless people I have met have said they are impressed with Obama. The Central Michigan University chapter of Students for Barack Obama is headed by someone who I didn't even think cared much about politics. This just shows that Obama's inspirational message of hope for change does have appeal that transcends not only partisan lines, but extends to people who, for whatever reason, don't care much about politics. This will be crucial come next November 4.

The question must then be asked: Can a black person like Obama become President? We cannot deny the continued existence of racist and sexist attitudes in Ameica. There will surely be those who won't vote for Obama simply because he's black, or for Hillary because she is a woman. However, let me ask you: How many people do you think will vote Republican if a black person heads our ticket, but would consider voting for any other Democrat (i.e. Edwards)? Probably very few.

Final thoughts
Each of the Democratic Presidential candidates has displayed qualities we should expect in our President. Edwards is a fierce champion of ordinary Americans and has an excellent vision for where this country should go. Richardson is a seasoned diplomat. Biden is an expert when it comes to foreign policy. Dodd has impeccable character. Few in Congress are as courageous as Kucinich. Hillary has long championed civil rights.

Yet, to me, only Senator Obama has shown all of these characteristics. More than anyone else, Obama has proven that he is the one who most deserves our trust - and that, his 'inexperience' aside, he is the one most capable of bearing the burden of the Presidency and restoring common sense to the highest office in the land.

So I ask you, why settle for less than the best? Sure, you may or may not agree with Obama on every policy issue; and sure, you may have doubts as to whether he has enough 'experience' (however you define that word). But during times like these, the United States of America needs nothing but the best leadership we can have, and no one has demonstrated these important leadership capabilities as has Barack Obama.

For these reasons, I am proud to declare my support for Senator Barack Obama's campaign to become the 44th President of the United States.

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