Not that this is any big secret, but I chose my candidate months ago and the things I have seen in those intervening months have only strengthened my resolve. Barack Obama is that choice.
I first became aware of Obama in the same way many of us did, with his address at the Democratic Convention. Since then I have watched the man, read the man and listened to him. I have also watched and listened to Hilary and the campaign-suspended John Edwards. I have to admit that I haven't spent much time on the Republican candidates. Sorry, but the Repugs were not high on my list before the disaster of W. Now, they are off the list and will be until they lose the current leadership of the party.
But the key event that switched my allegiance to Barack was reading Dreams From My Father. The book was published before Obama entered politics, a key point for me. It is an honest and forthright tale, and one that lets me know who this man is.
There will be no silliness about inhaling or partying. Barack told the world he was human already, in undeniable print. The man has experiences in Indonesia and Kenya that make him unique among the current crop of candidates; his life and struggles there do much to alleviate concerns about foreign policy for me, simply because at least Barack has lived in a foreign land and visited Africa without the Secret Service hovering.
He learned the effects of racism in school in Hawaii, where he was one of only three black students on campus. But he also knows that side of his heritage on the level of the projects. He recounts his early grass roots experience in Chicago, learning politics from the ground up. He knows what is at stake at the lower end of the financial scale in this country.
And he connected with me in his forward, where he did something so rare for a political candidate that it had a profound effect on my opinion of him. He talked about what he would change if he went back and wrote the book now. As a writer. He admitted that he would change something in his past if he could. He admitted the reality and possibility of mistakes and failure. So rare in a politician, so important in a person.
By the way, did everyone know he won a Grammy for the Spoken Word Edition? I didn't until I linked to the wikipedia page for the book.
I like that Barack Obama speaks of dreams and possibilities. Of working together, of moving forward. I like that he tries to avoid the gutter of Rove-ian politics. I like that he spoke out against the war when all the "cool kids" were supporting it.
So he's a dreamer. So was Jefferson. So was Lincoln. So was Roosevelt. So was JFK. So am I.
I'm dreaming of an Obama/Edwards ticket in November. I'm dreaming of voting for someone, instead of against someone. Of choosing my belief rather than the lesser of evils.
In five days, many of us will have our first chance to cast a ballot for change. Let's do it.
Reject the politics of fear. Reject those who resort to misdirection and miscommunication. Ignore the swift boat marketing of hate and despair. Vote for change. Vote for a dream. Vote for being proud of the diversity that makes us strong. Vote for hope.
Vote for Barack Obama.