Counting on Obama’s Qualities

Gavin Leighton

In 2004, a junior senator from Illinois delivered a stirring speech at the Democratic National Convention. It was a speech that called us to civic duty, a speech without pandering and one without partisan attack. Surely, he was na’ve to the divisions that exist in the United States today. Surprisingly, three years later he was campaigning for the highest office in the country with the same message. Adhering to the principles he spoke of in 2004 demonstrated determination and belief that despite our previous accomplishments, resting on our laurels is unacceptable.

All of this is not to say that his message is empty rhetoric. He supports his beliefs by proposing well thought out programs and plans. Senator Obama has mentioned that the government won’t fully prepare students without parents engendering a desire for knowledge. He acknowledges that treating Iran like a child is inappropriate, demanding that the entire country meet stipulated standards before we even talk is detrimental to long term stability and has been called as much by previous diplomats. Senator Obama understands that country first does not mean putting the rest of the world last.

Somewhere along the way, the talk of our common future was lost in the rancor of the presidential race. When the American public wants to hear about the economy, banks and unemployment, Senator McCain and Governor Palin talk to us about William Ayers, ACORN and the new celebrity, Joe the Plumber. Senator McCain said he would run a respectful campaign, yet he could not even look Senator Obama in the eye in the first debate. Was that inability the result of his anger towards Senator Obama or shame in his own campaign? Or is it both?

Talking about irrelevant issues has become pervasive. Through misinformation and half-truths many believe Senator Obama is a Muslim who wasn’t born in Hawaii. Recently, a Maroon-News editor correctly commented that names such as “Caribou Barbie” are not helpful. Unfortunately, the author did little to step out of the mental quagmire these names create by reverting to branding people with pejorative words such as conservative or liberal. The same author goes on to mock Joe Biden for a gaffe about the Middle East without mentioning Sarah Palin’s repeated inability to grasp the vice president’s role. Apparently, misstating the facts about the Middle East, which John McCain has set the precedent for, is a monumental error whereas a potential vice president not knowing the fundamentals of the Constitution is not worth mentioning.

And this is where we end up: bickering with each other over which campaign has been more detestable. Fortunately for us, one candidate has focused on the topic Americans care about most. While Senator McCain and Governor Palin feebly use the scare tactic of not knowing the real Barack Obama, Senator Obama has continued to talk about navigating out of the financial morass. Senator McCain argues we need a steady hand in office, and on every occasion Senator Obama has demonstrated a calmer temperament than that of John McCain. Senator Obama understands the complexity of issues in today’s world and demonstrated as much in the first debate when he spoke of the differentiation of power in Iran.

The synergy of Senator Obama’s qualities is what continues to draw people toward him and his message. His sophisticated world view along with an unruffled disposition provides promise for America’s place on the world stage. He speaks of a government that works for its people while at the same time positing that individuals maintain some responsibility to ourselves and to one another. He knows well what we have accomplished as a country and where we have faltered. Senator Obama understands that we live in a phenomenal country, but that doesn’t mean we have to preface every sentence by stating so. Finally, Senator Obama sees all the potential this country has, and can lead us there, which is why he needs to be the next President of the United States.