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Thursday, Feb. 14, 2008

Barack Obama for President

ENDORSEMENTS 2008

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Since they lost the 2000 presidential election to five justices on the Supreme Court, and four years later to the questionable voting machines in Ohio, Democrats have vowed not to let another election get taken from them. This year, the Democratic race for the nomination started with eight excellent candidates. Now, there are two.

There are issues facing this next president that even have Republicans seriously looking at one of the Democratic contenders. Issues like the seemingly endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have taken thousands upon thousands of lives and have wreaked havoc on our economy and strained relations with our allies abroad. The Bush administration managed to deny global warming; when they could no longer deny it, they successfully stalled or undermined global efforts to deal with it. Over the past eight years, the poor have gotten poorer, 47 million people in the United States are without health insurance, and the rich have gotten a lot richer by every standard of measurement. It has become clear to any honest-thinking person that our country is on the wrong course and that serious change is needed.

The 2008 election could alter our course, and Sen. Barack Obamais the one person who could transform that desire for change into real results. That’s why Obama has earned the endorsement of the Shepherd Express as the next president of the United States.

Obama is not just an individual politician with a smart, progressive policy agenda, but he also represents the future. He has attracted young voters and typically uninterested voters with his ability to spark the collective imagination and enthusiasm of Americans who have been left out of the political process. He represents our best choice to leave behind the divisions of recent years and to move forward with intelligence, unity, dignity and pride in American ideals. America can do better than it has of late. Barack Obama can inspire the country and the next generation to bring America back to the ideals that have set it apart from ever other nation in the world. We have not had this opportunity in decades, and we can’t pass it up.

Because Obama is running on the message of change, he will enter the White House next January with a clear mandate from the voters to push hard on Congress for real change by putting the people ahead of the special interests. He will have the power to set a new course and vision for America and it will be difficult for the old dinosaurs in Congress to block that progress. He will not take President Bush’s 50%-plus-one philosophy of governance. Obama will expand the circle of people involved in politics and we believe that he can ignite enough enthusiasm to help to transform America’s image abroad and solve longterm troubles at home. (No wonder the Republicans are nervous about running against him in November. The numbers are not on their side.)

Many have claimed that this is a campaign about gender and race. We strongly disagree. Yes, Democratic voters will have a historic choice to make this year, and they will not choose a white man to represent their party. But voters are not choosing between an African-American man and a white woman. The positions and images of Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton are too complex for that old story.

They both could represent the majority of this country, and do it skillfully. But unfortunately for Clinton, she is running against a movement that has grown beyond a single individual candidate, a movement that includes the hopes of ever-increasing numbers of people.

Obama has touched a nerve in the voters that changed his efforts from a campaign for president to a movement to bring America back to the ideals this country was built on. Clinton has made the case that she has more experience than Obama, and that she’s battle-tested and has been “vetted.”

While it is true that Clinton has served New York admirably since 2000 and has been involved in politics for decades, and we agree that experience is obviously important and influences one’s judgment, it is good judgment that counts the most.

Actually, sometimes experience can limit one’s ability to think big and create a lofty yet attainable vision. After all, the new president will face unpredictable events when Jan. 20, 2009, rolls around, and while experience is important, judgment is one’s most critical asset when facing the unknown.

Obama has shown that he has good judgment on the major issues facing the nation. In addition, he has the chance to be advised by the best and the brightest when in the White House, and we feel confident that he will select experts who will not only advise him but who will also challenge ideas so America does not make major mistakes. Unlike the current president, whose inner circle consists of questionable advisers who are intimidated by Vice President Dick Cheney, and who filter information to an unprecedented degree, Obama will value a healthy debate.

And it is true that Obama is young and hasn’t held office for long—certainly not as long as his presumed opponent in November, the career politician Sen. John McCain. But, again, we see this as an asset. Obama’s short time in the U.S. Senate means that he has led a life outside of politics. And his youth allows him to speak about hopes and ideals in an authentic way. And we all know that if you do not dare to talk about idealism, then those ideals will never materialize in daily life. Obama can talk about the “audacity of hope” without sounding corny or fake, because he has lived it and believes in it.

If you are not an idealist, but a pragmatic voter, there’s a case for Obama as well. Clinton has become a lightning rod, whether that is fair or not. Nothing would energize the right wing more than the nomination of Hillary Clinton for president—not a McCain nomination, not the selection of a right-wing radical for vice president, nothing. If Democrats select Clinton to be their nominee, the currently demoralized and run-out-of-ideas conservatives will have a cause— their hatred of Hillary—and turn out in droves in November. And this election is too important to leave to chance and allow another conservative Republican to win the presidency. If you like George W.

Bush, then you’ll love John McCain. Because of McCain’s weakness with conservatives, he will overcompensate and pander to them as he did when he kissed Jerry Falwell’s ring and made a rightwing address to the students at Liberty University. Be prepared for many more of these gestures to the right as the Republican campaign develops.

Sen. Barack Obama is the best candidate the Democrats have had in a very long time. And if given the chance, Obama has the potential to become one of the best presidents in recent history.

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