Very shortly, the Democrats will choose their nominee for the general election. While he has lagged behind for much of the year, Barack Obama is now in real contention to win in Iowa and ride that momentum to victory. In nominating Obama, Democrats have a once in a lifetime change to alter America’s politics.
The main criticism against Obama has been that he is too inexperienced. But a long resume, and decades of experience is simply no guarantee of a good performance once in office.
Just ask James Buchanan, John Quincy Adams, or Herbert Hoover (remember learning about them in history class?). Their resumes were as deep as any, but they accomplished nothing in office. Hoover is famous for presiding over the first years of the Great Depression, while Adams accomplished more as a congressman fighting slavery late in his life than he ever did as a President. The worst of the lot is Buchanan, who let the Union crumble around him in the 1850s.
What the electorate should look for in a President is vision and judgment. I strongly believe that Obama has those qualities. His address at the 2004 Democratic convention showed he believes strongly in personal responsibility, honesty in government, and better access to healthcare. He is a fresh face who wants to move beyond the intense partisanship of the Clinton and Bush years, and has reached across the aisle, even to conservatives like Sam Brownback and Todd Coburn. For Americans who are tired of being divided by Karl Rove and Machiavellian political strategists, Obama represents the best chance for a new politics of civility and purpose.
The most important issue for many Americans right now is the war in Iraq. During the run-up to the war in Iraq — when Bush’s approval ratings were through the roof — Obama gave an extremely prescient speech, declaring that the “invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al Qaeda.”