When I listened to Barack Obama's victory speech after winning South Carolina, the whole speech was great, but one sentence jumped out and caught my attention as a great summation of why I am so excited about Obama:
"real leadership is about candor, and judgment, and the ability to rally Americans from all walks of life around a common purpose"
I am so sick and tired of spin, of elected leaders who tell us what they think we want to hear rather than level with us about what we need to hear, of candidates who will say anything and do anything to win the next election. I honestly believe that Obama is different. He has already shown that he is different. The man does not change his tune to suit the audience. He has stood in front of a hall full of Democrats, when it would have been easy and welcome to trash Republicans, and he has instead talked about the importance of working with them. He has stood in front of a teacher's union and said he thinks there may be some merit to merit pay. And time and again he has been inclusive of gays and lesbians, not just in his general stump speech, but when he spoke at Auburn University, and when he spoke from Martin Luther King's pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist Church. (Compare and contrast with Hillary Clinton, who doesn't utter a word that's not poll-tested and focus-group screened. She speaks a big game when in front of the Human Rights Campaign, claiming she would overturn the ban on gays in the military, and yet she is already sitting on the Senate Armed Services Committee, in the ideal position to do something about it, and has done nothing. I think it's clear we can expect Hillary to pander to the gay community when she needs our votes, but then throw us under the bus once elected, just as her husband did. Bill Clinton courted the gay vote, then not only gave us the Don't Ask Don't Tell compromise, but he signed the Defense of Marriage Act. Why should I expect Hillary Clinton to be any different?)
The level of politics in our country has sunk so low, that I would so much rather have someone who is honest, candid, and straightforward, even if I don't agree with all of his specific ideas, than someone who will spin, lie, and obfuscate. I'd much rather have someone who takes the high road, rather than someone who believes the end justifies the means (for instance, Hillary's willingness to break her pledge and change the rules on the Florida and Michigan primaries, which shows the only "principle" she's familiar with is "whatever it takes to win"). I look forward to being able to travel abroad and have a president I can be proud of rather than ashamed of. I hope that the rest of the country is as hungry as I am to restore the greatly damaged credibility of the presidency, and to elevate the tone of politics in Washington, by electing someone who can be trusted to speak openly and honestly. I think Obama is that man.