No one asked if America was ready to see a black man in Major League Baseball. It wasn’t—until the right man, Jackie Robinson, accepted the challenge and made the most of it, and in the process changed our nation forever and for the good. Nor did anyone ask if America was ready for the first black CEOs of multinational corporations such as American Express, TimeWarner, or Aetna. When the best candidates for those positions happened to be black, the way was cleared for Kenneth Chenault, Richard Parsons, and Ron Williams.
Similarly, Barack Obama is the right person, in the right place, at the right time to be America’s next president. If we continue to lend credence to the idea that it can’t happen, that we as a nation are not “ready” (whatever that means), then it won’t. The proof of whether America is ready or not should be determined on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008—and not by political pundits or polls. I unequivocably endorse Barack Obama to be the next president of the United States.
America needs Obama’s unifying vision. The rap on earlier black presidential contenders, including Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, was that their campaigns ultimately appealed to too narrow a swath of the electorate, dominated primarily by African Americans and liberal voters. Obama’s candidacy and message focus on middle-class tax relief, a commitment to a sensible, phased withdrawal and redeployment of U.S. troops in Iraq, and public-private partnerships to guarantee health insurance coverage for all Americans, which transcends race and political labels.
America needs Obama’s promise of fresh leadership and a new direction. I have a tremendous amount of admiration and respect for the political achievements of both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. However, I do not put much stock in the value of their experience. Claims to an edge over Obama in this area are exaggerated (Edwards and Clinton never held a national elected office prior to 1999 and 2000, respectively). As far as I’m concerned, their experience only underscores the fact that they are products of the very political status quo they are now pledging to change. Case in point: Of the leading presidential contenders of both major parties, including Clinton and Edwards, only Obama opposed the 2002 invasion of Iraq from the beginning and remains opposed today. The value of past experience is diminished when dealing with economic, social, and environmental crises America has never faced before. Only Obama can credibly offer solutions predicated not on past political experience of dubious value, but on a desperately needed, forward-thinking agenda. Of the candidates of either party, only Obama—like John F. Kennedy more than four decades ago—is qualified to deliver presidential leadership for a new generation of Americans hurtling faster than ever toward an increasingly complex future.
America needs Obama’s capacity to inspire and restore hope. His election is the desperately needed answer to the national cynicism that is slowly draining the vitality and optimism of the American spirit. His embrace of family values is a model