Our country is in serious trouble. We all know the problems. Bogged down in a senseless war of our own making, America is reviled around the world as an impotent bully. Our economy is unraveling, our dollar is in the basement, and our jobs are disappearing. Our medical system is in the hands of corporate giants. Our environment is getting trashed. The list goes on and on. But the worst thing that has happened to us is that as a nation we have lost our way. We have lost faith that Americans can still be the good guys, that we can control greed, forbid torture, help the poor, and protect the Earth. Eight years of the incompetent, ideologically blinded George W. Bush and his dreadful administration have caused incalculable harm. But the time for railing against President Bush is over. Now we must change-not just our president, but ourselves.
The primary on February 5 is the first chance Californians will have to help set the nation on the right path. The Independent rarely endorses in party primaries, but this year we endorse with confidence one candidate who is uniquely qualified to be president: Barack Obama.
What impresses us most about Obama is his ability to inspire hope in those who’ve learned to dismiss the political process as a cynical joke. And his gift goes beyond speechifying, which he does with uncommon grace. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has charged that he is short on experience. We disagree. He has had more years of legislative experience than Clinton, with three years in the U.S. Senate and eight years in that rough-and-tumble body known as the Illinois Legislature. During those 11 years, he successfully brought together Democrats and Republicans to pass legislation benefitting ordinary people-from tax credits for children to ethics reform in Congress.
And what good did Clinton’s experience serve us when she voted to give President Bush a blank check to wage war on Iraq? Few decisions in history have proved so predictably wrong-headed. As the most engaged First Lady in history and as a U.S. Senator, she should have known better. Yet Clinton never even read the National Intelligence Estimates that assessed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein as odious but not an imminent threat to the United States. Our own congressmember, Lois Capps, knew better when she voted against the war authorization act.
At that time, Obama, who had not yet assumed his U.S. Senate seat-and could not vote-spoke out extensively against the war and predicted many of the horrors that have since come to pass: thousands of American dead, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead. Escalating terrorism. A staggering drain on the economy. Untold dreams forever deferred.
While Clinton is certainly a strong candidate for president, she remains fundamentally a tragic figure in American politics. The victim of one of the most relentlessly vicious and sexist smear campaigns unleashed in recent memory, Clinton retreated into her own interior fortress. We sympathize with her plight, but that’s no reason to give her our vote on February 5. In the next four years, we need to tear down the fortress walls and begin the hard work of rediscovering what it really means to be American. As a nation, we long to regain the courage of our convictions, to renew our faith in American ideals.
The groundswell of support for Barack Obama is based on the belief that he has the ability to inspire hope and define our aspirations as a nation in a way that reaches not only Americans, but the world. We believe this as well, and urge you to vote for Barack Obama in the Democratic primary on February 5.