Let me preface this by saying that I am not an overly political person. I enjoy watching the primaries much like I enjoy watching a good game of college basketball. The differences between Republicans and Democrats depend on issues that are not black and white to me. I choose no party and because of this I am your classic "independent" (or libertarian, but I prefer not to be bucketed, so we'll stick with independent for now). In our undeniably centrist country, I usually vote based on the person, or simply don't vote out of silent protest (2004).
That having been said, 2008 is shaping up to be a different experience for me. It could be that I now live in the center of all things political, Washington, DC, but seeing as how it seems that everyone else in the world is watching as closely as I am, I don't think I'm alone. Normally, I look to political candidates as puppets with fantastic speech writers, born to say the "right" things people want to hear under the right spotlight at the right time. Normally, I look to political candidates with a certain sense of contempt. That changed for me when I first heard Barack Obama speak.
Obama defines what I want in a leader and, more importantly, who I think the US needs in the Oval Office after a damaging few years of mistakes and good 'ol boy-ness. The "young" and "inexperienced" criticisms heaped on Obama by critics simply do not stand up to "inspiring" and "gifted" in my book. After a bit of a rough patch in my overt patriotism, listening to Barack Obama speak (without a teleprompter) to a stadium full of fresh faces in Madison made me proud to be an American again. It even led to me posting on my blog for the first time in months... now that's saying something.
I worry that he will be unable to overcome Washington, DC, a tough city full of vindictive and power-hungry people, waiting for the opportunity to smile to your face then stab you in the back. I doubt it's much different in other capital cities of the world; the center of politics is also undoubtedly the center of malpractice. Those with power often fear losing it more than using it effectively to make everything around them better. Such is my fear for Obama. He is so fresh, so inspiring, so un-jaded by it all... I hope he never looses that honest look and the ability to to rally those around him much like another young president did at the height of the Cold War.
Despite these worries, I have faith that Sen. Obama will overcome. He will hiccup, he will stumble, he will misstep. But after it all, he will emerge the face of an America that so badly needs a fresh look.
Although I don't think a single person reads this blog, let it be known that I, the blogosphere's most reluctant blogger, am endorsing Barack Obama for President of the United States of America. (aka I Barack the Vote)