The 2008 Presidential election is underway. The Iowa caucuses are now history, and by the time you read this, the New Hampshire primaries will also have run their course. The pivotal South Carolina primaries are now only days away.
In this column last week, you may recall, I offered good, solid reasons to vote for each of the Republican candidates for President, with the promise to cover the Democrats this week. (You can read it online at: http://www.doingthefirst.blogspot.com/)
I believe choosing a president is a complex process. If, as Waffle House claims, there are over 70,778,880 ways to order a hamburger, how many different factors must go into choosing a President. As I wrote last week, there's not a right answer to the question, "Who's the best choice for President?" Nor is there a wrong answer.
Like many of my friends and acquaintances, I still have no idea which candidate I will choose when I go to the polls.
And, although the debate during the days leading up to the early contests always seems to drift toward the negative, I see a lot of positive. The national news media, of course, tends to focus on the negative. TV ads produced by campaigns frequently focus on the negatives of their major opponents. By the time Election Day arrives, as a result, many voters are left to choose between what they now believe to be "the lesser of two evils".
But, knowing that there are no perfect people, I'm trying to look beyond the negative hype, to focus on what's good about the candidates. And, frankly, I see good, solid attributes in virtually every major candidate… Republican and Democrat alike.
So, last week, I offered what I consider to be a good reason to vote for each of the Republican candidates - John McCain, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani, and Duncan Hunter -- and this week, I'm doing the same for the four major Democrats: Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson and Hillary Clinton.
Barack Obama appears to be a very nice guy who is smart, capable and likeable. At a time that most Americans appear to be ready for a major change in their government, Obama represents that attitude - not only because he speaks of change, but also because his election as the first African-American president would embody the most significant change in many, many decades. Obama is perhaps uniquely qualified to be the individual who pioneers this final frontier toward unifying a nation divided by race since its inception.
John Edwards talks of his passion for giving voice to the average, working Americans who often fall victim to the rich and powerful. Elements of his personal history - rising up from the humble beginnings of a family of mill workers in Upstate South Carolina; the tragic loss of his son to a traffic accident; even the cancer being faced by his wife Elizabeth - have given Edwards an empathy for the common man that other candidates cannot likely match. Democrat voters should note that Edwards has embraced traditional liberal Democratic philosophies without the luxury of representing a Blue-State constituency, suggesting that his political views come from the heart.
Bill Richardson has the best resume of any candidate, Democrat or Republican. If experience counts, Richardson's record of service - which includes stints as a Congressman, Secretary of Energy, U.N Ambassador, and Governor of New Mexico - make him the most prepared candidate to be President. His election would also mark a milestone for our nation: the first Hispanic President, which could prove useful in dealing with the national crisis of illegal immigration we currently face. Richardson is known as a capable and respected leader.
Hillary Clinton is proven. Her eight-years as a very public First Lady clearly demonstrated her ability to handle the pressure associated with the office. As America seeks to elect the next leader of the free world, we should keep first and foremost in our minds that we must choose someone with the nerves of steel needed to face off against the global threat of terrorists willing to die for their cause. No other candidate has demonstrated more inner-brass than Hillary. Through the many trials and tribulations of the Clinton years, we've never seen her sweat. As President, I believe she will be willing to "do whatever it takes"… a necessary trait of our next President. Additionally, we know she has the ability to work in a bi-partisan fashion, as her joint efforts with our own Senator Lindsey Graham will attest. As a bonus, her election would certainly signal gender-equality in America.
So there you have it: Solid reasons to vote FOR the four Democratic candidates for President… as promised last week when I offered the same type of positive comments about each of the Republicans.
I hope you'll find your own good reasons to vote for one of these dozen or so top-quality men and women who are offering their service. They're each truly impressive in their own ways. And, I can promise you - despite what you might read and hear in the weeks ahead -- not a single one of them is running for President because they DON'T love our country.