It was a thrill to vote for Barack Obama on Tuesday during the (I prefer to call it) Chesapeake Primary.
I came to my decision about Obama suddenly and with absolute clarity about a month ago, after reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s wonderful book about Lincoln and his cabinet, "Team of Rivals." I was so inspired by Lincoln’s example of brilliant, strategic, and compassionate leadership. The man reached out to his rivals, knowing that they were critical to the work that lay ahead. He readily gave others credit and always took responsibility for anything that went wrong. Because he cared so profoundly about this country, he was unremitting in his drive to prove that self-governance is not an absurdity. He had an easy way with people, was a great storyteller, and could relate in a genuine way to any person.
I know it sounds crazy, but – Lincoln was from Illinois (didn’t quite make Senator), was considered an underdog, and initially underestimated by many. Sound familiar? Just to test my theory, I also read "Dreams From My Father ," Barack Obama’s fascinating memoir of his childhood and early adulthood. He tells of his search for identity and meaning with great candor – which is so refreshing in this day of phony pols, propped up by their PR staffs. Obama comes across as ordinary AND complex, humble AND ambitious, confused AND confident. In other words, he is just like one of us – AND he is a remarkable individual. He comes across as a thoughtful man, one who listens and considers and cares. Like Lincoln, he probably makes decisions with equal reliance on his head AND his heart.
I could go into an analysis of Obama’s environmental and energy policy positions , which are indeed a breath of fresh air after the fossil-fuel-clouded last eight years. But those do not define Barack Obama as a leader or even as a fellow citizen who is surely as concerned about the global future as the rest of us. These policies simply demonstrate that he is smart enough to tap into the prodigious expertise in this country – and, probably wherever else intelligent ideas are being tested.
One of my favorite aphorisms is, "Vision without action is a daydream; action without vision is a nightmare." What we are getting when we vote for Obama is someone with vision AND the humility to tolerate others tinkering with the strategies to implement that vision. He will keep his eye on the bigger picture while listening to those who necessarily drill deeply into the issues. It is SO REFRESHING to hear from someone who has this vision – AND who is demonstrating every day that he has what it takes to get to the Oval Office where he can roll up his sleeves and get to work for the common good.