Op/Ed: WHY WE SUPPORT OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT
(BALTIMORE - Feb. 5, 2008) - Every four years Americans elect our President, and each election represents a serious and important choice. This year our country is facing difficult times: a shaky economy, two wars being waged by our over-extended military, and a sense that our position of leadership in the international community has been seriously weakened.
But challenging as these issues may be, we are blessed this year in having an exciting field of candidates vying to represent their parties in the November general election. As Democrats, we're particularly proud of the accomplishments of the individuals running in the Democratic primaries and caucuses.
As elected officials, we know first-hand the demands of campaigning, of making sure one's message is effectively communicated, of keeping voters' attention in the midst of constant distractions.
We also know first-hand the even tougher challenge of transforming campaign positions and rallying cries into laws and action that actually change citizens' lives for the better. That requires the ability to work together with those who don't see eye-to-eye with you, in your own party as well across the aisle. It requires the leadership to bring together disparate attitudes into a unified vision of what can be accomplished.
For these reasons, we are supporting Senator Barack Obama of Illinois for President. While all the Democratic candidates offer a significant positive change from the current Administration, we believe Senator Obama has the special combination of character and experience to lead us through the challenges we face.
Although some say that Senator Obama lacks the age or experience to be President, this is simply not true. Older than either John F. Kennedy or Bill Clinton were when they ran for president, he also has more years of elective experience than either Senators Hillary Clinton or John Edwards. In addition to his three years in the U.S. Senate, he served eight years in the Illinois State Senate. As a current and former member of the Maryland House of Delegates, we can attest to the State Legislatures as being the forum where a politician deals most directly with many of the most important issues in ordinary people's lives - such as education, health care, and public safety.
More than any other candidate, Senator Obama possesses the gift to inspire hope in those who have been turned off by the pettiness and cynicism of today's politics. He is motivating young voters in record numbers. Unlike too many in the partisan political world, he brings the ability to listen to views from across the spectrum and to coalesce these different needs into solutions that can work for our country as a whole.
To share a small example of the kind of leadership that Senator Obama offers: at an event last summer for Democratic activists, Mr. Obama was taking questions from the audience. One man asked the senator how he felt about gun control. Given the progressive bent of the crowd he was addressing, it would have been easy for Senator Obama to simply declare his history of support for gun control. Instead he told his listeners about the farmers of Southern Illinois, for whom hunting is an important tradition passed on from parent to child over the generations. Then he talked about the fears of parents in inner-city Chicago, whose children too frequently fall victim to handguns. He made the case that rather than shout simplistic slogans at one another, we can fashion solutions that protect our children while still respecting the different needs of a diverse society.
That is the kind of leadership we need: the ability to inspire and to point the way to a common future in which we can all participate and of which we can all be proud.