A cynicism resulting from the disappointments of elections--and governments--past has made me hesitent about jumping on the bandwagon of any 2008 Democratic candidate too soon. Nevertheless, it hasn't taken long in this only recently initiated pre-primary season to assess the field and arrive at a point of clarity regarding the party's best candidate.
But before coming out of the not so hidden closet to reveal this candidate's identity, it's worth retreating a few steps to consider what exactly it is that Democratic voters should be looking for when choosing their next nominee and the country's next president.
1. Administrative Skill. At the top of the list, undoubtedly, is having someone who's unmistakeably up for the job; someone who can respond well to a crisis, can make good decisions, and can with some degree of expertise, survey the minutia of political drama and be able to ascertain and consistently maintain a vision of things and the country.
2. Political Values. Next to this, at least for us hyper-partisans, is someone who brings the right values to the position. For progressive/liberal Democrats, the ideals that come to mind are those relating to the preservation of fundamental civil liberties (freedom of speech, freedom of and from religion, freedom of association, and the freedom of and need for an independent press); protecting the individual from the coercision and abuses of centralized power (church, business, and the state itself) through the enforcement of civil rights, consumer and worker safety, and labor (right to unionize) laws; and helping to ensure that the opportunities, benefits and prosperity of a free society are made available to all those who share with us the gift of humanity, and who by their support and contribution to that society, are entitled to its benefits--in other words, recognizing not just the visible movers and shakers, the privileged of our society, but all those who through their business consumption and civic association, participate in the affairs of the nation (which is all of us).
3. Communication Skills. Another attribute democrats and Democrats should look for in choosing their executive leadership is someone who can navigate the minefields of political opposition, particularly those with deep pockets or those having media and information control (and the likelihood that these political sources of power are frequently one and the same and bound up within single institutions). Can the candidate and presidential hopeful speak above the noise machine, and appeal directly to the mass public?
4. Paradigm Changing Aptitude. Finally, of especial importance for progressives, can the candidate fundamentally alter the country's political dynamics? Is, or can, he or she be a paradigm-buster?
5. Character. Is the candidate trustworthy, capable of exercising reason, and possessing of reasonably impeccable moral credentials?
With these qualifications and considerations in mind, it is clear to me that the best choice Democrats have is Barack Obama. The first term Illinois Senator of mixed racial heritage is not only the best choice this year, he may be the best choice Democrats have had in a generation, and maybe the most audacious candidate the party will have put forward ever.
In Part Two of this Audacious Endorsement, I will attempt to outline the reasons I believe this to be so.