Saturday, February 2, 2008
My Journey to Choose a Candidate
This is not a political commentary although it is about politics. Rather it is about my journey to choose a candidate. Never has my decision touched me so deeply nor has it ever been so difficult.
Tuesday, January 8th was a historic day. Listed on the New Hampshire primary ballot were the names of the two leading candidates seeking the Democratic Party nomination for president - a woman named Hillary Clinton and a black man named Barack Obama. Another name, Bill Richardson, of Hispanic heritage was also listed and in fourth place in the polls. The list of all the candidates was long and impressive. Of special interest to me were Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd. I can't remember a time when the the choices were so good and so varied. I can't remember a time when I felt the country would be in good hands regardless of which candidate ultimately made it to the White House.
In my heart, I wanted desperately to see America break one of the barriers that keeps us divided. I grew up in a culture and a family that told me I wasn't as good, smart or capable because I was a girl. The working world confirmed that stereotype. Like many women in my generation, I rebelled against it. US Senator Hillary Clinton's status as a serious contender for the presidency was a dream come true.
My culture, family, and work experience constantly reminded me that being black in America, also meant not as good, as smart or as capable. More horrendous stereotypes were perpetuated in American society. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was and is one of my heroes. US Senator Barack Obama's status as a serious contender for the presidency was a dream come true.
Hispanics have not escaped the labels of not as good, smart or capable, either. Alas, more bigotry and ignorance reared it's ugly head here in the land of the free. Gov. Bill Richardson's status as a serious contender for the presidency was a dream come true.
You may be thinking that the choice should have been easy. I'm a white woman who has dreamed since childhood that a woman would rise to the presidency. But it wasn't that easy. Careful thought and consideration are a must when choosing a leader. The United States is at critcal point in its history. Seldom has the need for the right leader been more urgent.
Therefore, the process of choosing was an arduous one. I set my heart aside while I examined each of the candidates. They shared many views. The process of winnowing the field often came down to one view that I felt strongly about. Within a few weeks, my field had been narrowed to Clinton, Obama and Biden. Senator Biden just didn't have the support necessary to keep him competitive. In a way, I felt this great senator is still needed in the Senate.
Finally, I was left with Clinton and Obama. They are both good, smart and capable! Either as president would be a dream come true.
However, I was extremely disappointed in a vote on a resolution that Clinton had made a few months earlier. It weighed heavily on my mind. But the most basic question seemed to me to be what does this country need more than anything? We need a leader who can unite us and inspire us. When I say us, I mean all of us. We need a new direction, a new vision. We need someone who can restore our standing in the world community. We need a leader who will give it to us straight, who will tell us that we need to pitch in to rebuild this nation. A leader we can believe in. My questions reminded me of the speaker who gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention on July 27, 2004. I had not felt so motivated and inspired since I was a kid listening to President Kennedy's inaugural address. That evening I told my husband that I had just listened to an incredible speech by the man who would be the first black president of the United States. That sentiment was echoed by many others the following day.
Finally, my heart and my mind were in agreement; I had my answer. I cast my vote in the New Hampshire primary for Senator Barack Obama.
A great historic moment awaits us during the August 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado as the party nominates either Senator Obama or Senator Clinton to be its candidate for president of the United States. I hope with all my heart and mind that it will be Senator Obama but I will enthusiastically support Senator Clinton if she is the nominee. It is with great joy and hope that I await that final historic moment when one of them is sworn in to be President of the United States.
Keynote Address by Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention, 07/27/04
Clipart or Photos: www.ace-clipart.com