Sometimes I feel that our country is bleeding.
More and more Americans can't afford health insurance, can't afford the housing that is being built, and don't get an education that will make them productive in our society.
A huge percentage of our tax dollars get spent arming our country against the world that we live in.
We don't trust each other. Democrats and Republicans both believe that the other side will destroy them if given the chance, and they might.
I went with my fairly conservative and very wise 88 year old father to hear Barack Obama speak at Bowie State University, a mostly black campus in Maryland, before the 2006 mid-term elections. The speakers before Obama were candidates for Governor, Senator, and Congressman. They all shouted loudly that we better get out there and fight or the Republicans would win. Not much different than a pre-game pep rally.
When Obama stepped to the podium the room went silent. He spoke without anger and he did not tell people what they already thought. Instead, Barack Obama spoke of things that unite all Americans. He spoke reverently of the work done by the founding fathers when they wrote our Constitution (he was a professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago ). He spoke of the way small town white people in southern Illinois welcomed him when he ran for the Senate there. He spoke of the humanity and earnestness of the antiabortion protesters that he befriended on his way into the building where he was about to speak. He spoke of the historical roots of the issues that divide Americans and how those conflicts have been stoked for political gain. The crowd at Bowie State University left the building not angry at what their country has denied them, but proud to be an American in a time of great possibilities.
I then read Obama's book, The Audacity of Hope. In it he writes what he believes. He thinks through the issues of our time and offers a glimpse of directions that we can go. It is not about policy. There is no shortage in America of policy ideas. Each issue is examined politically. What do the people think? What are the politicians saying? How can a consensus be created that will take us to a place where we do not violate the moral principles that almost all of us share?
I read whatever I can find about how Obama is perceived. I was amazed at how other senators accepted his leadership on issues that they had worked on for decades. His ability to convince both large and small money donors to get behind his campaign shocked everyone, especially the Clinton campaign. The less visible but even more surprising strength of the campaign apparatus that he created is the long list of military and foreign policy experts who are helping him. I would have expected all these Washington insiders to support Clinton or McCain. There seems to be a sense that Obama's people skills will serve our country well in our relations with other nations.
I don't trust politicians much. Even Barack Obama will probably be tainted over the years and do things that seem to compromise the principles that he has sworn allegiance to. But it is hard for anyone to deny that he is the most morally grounded, charismatic, and brilliant leader of our time. Of all the candidates running from either party, I would argue that Obama is the only real leader. He is undeniably in charge but also adored within his campaign staff. He writes his own words and makes his own decisions. He knows that his job is not only to find solutions, but also to convince us to support them. And he is a very convincing man.
If our country is bleeding we need a healer. For me, Barack Obama fits the bill.