This post has been a long time in the making. I knew I was going to vote for Obama, but getting around to writing all the reasons has taken time. My reasons aren't about policy, generally. Policy is a large, complex machine that can be derailed at any point. These are more general.
1. I want a smart guy to be President. I'm sick of having an idiot (or someone who plays one on TV) in the White House. I don't want someone I can have a beer with. I don't want someone who is like me. I want the smartest guy in the class. Where do the smart kids go? To the best schools they can get into. Obama went to Columbia as an undergrad and to Harvard Law. YOU try getting into Harvard Law. Then try getting onto Law Review. Then become editor-in-chief. Out of an average of 7500 applicants to Harvard Law, around 560 are accepted. And only one becomes Harvard Law EIC. It isn't proof of genius, but it's a good start. And it is a lot better than graduating fifth from the bottom of your class, as John McCain did.
2. I want someone who is well-spoken to be President, someone who can act as a statesman. Obama can speak clearly and intelligently to foreign leaders. After eight years of President Bush, we need someone who can step onto the world stage, as Obama did in Berlin, and show the people that things are changing in the United States. I am tired of my country being represented by people who are crude and unsophisticated and who say and do stupid things in public.
Compare and contrast:
3. I want someone who isn't white to be President. Oh my Gah, she said something RACIAL!! I think it is about time. The United States has a gaping stomach wound around race that is gushing blood and that won't heal by itself. A biracial President would help stitch us back together. Obama's connections to Africa via his father, his international family and even his middle name of Hussein help send the signal that we are ready to move on and include people other than old white guys at the highest levels of power.
4. I want someone who inspires people to be my President. Much has been made of Obama's "celebrity." Obama is famous and beloved because he speaks to people's hearts. He talks about our deepest values and asks us to be better people. This is something we respond to in a much bigger way than "I'm going to cut your taxes." He speaks to young people and people of all colors like no other politician out there. Yesterday online I read someone sneering that they were sick of him talking about hope. Since when is hope BAD? I want that inspiration. I need that hope.
5. I want someone with good values to be President. Obama's life has been about improving himself, serving other people and raising a good family. Despite 18 months of vetting, no one has come up with anything significant. He knew a few bad people. Name a politician that doesn't. He hasn't divorced anyone when they were recovering from a serious accident, as McCain did when be began his affair with his present wife. He hasn't called his wife a cunt in public, as it has been reported that McCain did.
6. I want someone with a good temperament. I haven't heard much about Obama's temper, but McCain's is legendary. Bush is famously tetchy, too. Cranky people are hard to talk to and hard to reason with (I should know - I can be one!). The Prez, like any good leader, needs to be approachable.
7. I want someone who isn't bound up with the Bush White House and with Karl Rove-style politics. Sarah Palin is already out there repeating bald-faced lies about her record. I think the McCain campaign has taken a page from the Bush/Rove book there, where you lie and lie and lie, and pretty soon people start to believe you. Ick.
8. I want my constitution back, complete with protections from being spied on without suspicion, preservation of habeas corpus, an end to the use of torture, etc. The Republicans have shown remarkably little spine in this area. Democrats aren't much better, but Obama answered my question about torture in his BlogHer interview in a way that made me very happy.
9. Isn't 8 enough? Ok, here's a totally shallow one: I want a president who is Kennedy cool. When Obama got that dirt off his shoulder, he sent a clear message about his cool. Watch the audience react: they know.