Sunday, January 27, 2008

Arizona Republic backs Barack Obama

The Arizona Republic, the state's largest newspaper is endorsing Barack Obama.

Obama can unite nation

Jan. 27, 2008 12:00 AM

This is historic. Savor it.

For the first time, a Black man and a woman are within striking distance of the U.S. presidency. That is a remarkable statement about how far this country has come toward the goal of equality. It is shining testimony to the world that the United States continues to move toward the "more perfect Union" our Constitution envisions.

These two candidates for president do not want their efforts to win the Democratic presidential primary to be defined by their gender or race. That, too, is significant, and it signals a level of national maturity that would have been unthinkable not so very long ago. So we will consider Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on criteria other than gender and race.

First, we need to acknowledge that there will be other candidates on Arizona's Feb. 5 Democratic primary ballot. The most significant of these is John Edwards. As the son of a mill worker, he also exemplifies the promise of America. But his populist appeal relies too much on demonizing big business, and his death knell for the middle class is premature. He doesn't measure up.

This contest is between Obama and Clinton.

Their Senate voting records and political philosophy about the role of government are not appreciably different. Both are intelligent and competent individuals who can be trusted to surround themselves with top-notch advisers.

What sets these two apart is the likelihood they can deliver on the promise of change.

We believe Barack Obama has the best chance of moving Washington and the nation beyond the poisonous partisanship of recent decades. He appeals to independent voters and Republicans, in addition to members of his own party. His promise to unite is convincing.

Fierce political divisions have made it impossible to enact needed reforms in such areas as immigration policy, Social Security and health care. In addition to making domestic challenges untouchable, the partisan antagonism has made it more difficult to deal with international issues - from trade to terrorism.

The natural tension between branches of government and political parties is built into the system because it provides brakes and checks. Yet deeply entrenched opposition based on personalities is corrosive. Sadly, that type of active hostility has become a hallmark of Washington.

In addition, many Americans are cynical and frustrated because they perceive that special interests exert undue influence on government decision-making.

Hillary Clinton, though highly experienced, is very much a part of the current gridlocked system. She is a polarizing figure who would face instant opposition from those who continue to have a visceral reaction to Bill Clinton's administration.

To make matters worse, the combative stance the former president has taken during the campaign is more than just unseemly. It reaches beyond the primary, and will be answered growl for growl by Republicans in Congress if Hillary Clinton becomes president. Partisan politics will continue as usual.

Hillary Clinton is tough, and she might demonstrate the skills to overcome the opposition. But that will take time and energy, and prevent her from hitting the ground running, as she promises to do. In all likelihood, the lingering ill will from her husband's administration would cripple Clinton's presidency.

Obama is free from that baggage. He promises to move politics beyond the past two decades of screaming heads to something more productive. His campaign's tone is one of cooperation and bipartisanship.

Obama's call for Americans to believe in their power to change things is Kennedy-esque in its idealism. But it is also solidly rooted in an understanding of how badly the nation needs to remember its true strengths. He wants to provide tools, such as an accessible Internet database of lobbyist activities, to bring more openness to government and encourage public participation.

Obama represents a fresh, optimistic approach. His youthful voice calls for fundamental changes and a return to "an America that believes again." His oratory soars. While talk alone isn't enough, it has been a very long time since Americans had a leader who appealed to their better nature.

Democrats would do well to let Barack Obama carry their hopes into November.

1 comment:

WantaDemocratThisTime said...

This prose is all nice and pretty, except there are no republicans who would vote for Obama. How about we end the pep rally, and start the process of ELECTING a head of state? It is still done by educated people casting votes.

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