One out of every 220 Americans of voting age has responded to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s campaign by donating money to help him get elected. By the time you read this, the campaign most likely will have eclipsed the magical number of one million donors.
I took some time to ponder this vast outpouring of support for a man whom few people knew before his powerful speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention. And after extensive reading and research, I have determined that the man Barack Obama is and the one he is portrayed to be by his Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton, and Republican frontrunner John McCain are two different people.
Early on, the media has characterized Obama as having "rock star" status. On the campaign stump, Clinton and McCain paint Obama’s support as a cult of personality, suggesting that the young senator from Illinois may deliver eloquent speeches, but they contain no substance. Both Clinton and McCain express concern about Obama’s lack of experience. They say he is ill-prepared for the highest office in the land.
But Obama is one of the fastest-rising stars in U.S. politics. Age and experience would be an obvious rebuttal to his rising fame.
McCain, 71, has served in public office for 25 years. With 20 years of serving this country in the United States Navy – including five and a half years as a tortured prisoner of war in Vietnam – McCain is acknowledged as a war hero. But if he wins in November, Sen. McCain will be the oldest elected president in the history of the United States. Reagan was two weeks shy of 70.
Clinton, 60, would be the first woman president in the history of this nation. She has represented New York in the U.S. Senate for seven years. Until November 2000, she had never been elected to political office. The noted lawyer and author has served 20 years as first lady both in the Arkansas Statehouse and in the U.S. Capitol. There is no denying that she has been a tireless advocate for health care reform, civil liberties, worker’s rights and children.
Obama, 46, would be the first president of African descent – and the fifth youngest in U.S. history. The first black president in the 104-year-old history of the Harvard Law Review, Obama was a community organizer in Chicago, a lecturer on constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School and a civil rights lawyer before serving eight years in the Illinois State Senate. He has served in the U.S. Senate since Jan. 20, 2005.
This truly is a presidential election unlike any other. The victor will either be the oldest president elected, the first woman elected or the first multi-racial person elected to lead the world’s most powerful nation.
But when I truly listen to the candidates, only one generates a soul quality that I have not felt since the spring of 1968. At age 7, I stood with my mom, my younger brother and sister, my grandpa and my pregnant aunt in the sweltering heat among a throng of onlookers in North Platte, Neb. The whistle-stop tour of Robert F. Kennedy, heading across the country toward the ill-fated California primary, brought this huge crowd of Midwesterners face-to-face with a young, vibrant candidate who spoke about what this country could become. It was my first political experience, and one that has stayed in my memory ever since.
Like RFK, Barack Obama speaks from an old soul. Obama has stirred hundreds of thousands of otherwise apathetic young people to vote in primaries and caucuses across the nation. Unlike any other candidate in this race, Obama speaks of the unique opportunity before us to solve problems together. Instead of making empty promises that no president can possibly fulfill, he offers optimism, a nonpartisan spirit and an infectious humbleness that seeks to reunite this country. He is an effective leader who would make incredibly sound decisions in choosing a team that can get the job done.
No other candidate has the soul to restore America’s pride, at home and abroad. The Edge endorses Barack Obama as the next president of the United States.