I have been a registered Independent voter since 1994. Like many Americans, I've given more thought to this election than to any previous political contest. Many of us share a deep sense of unease as we witness a degree of instability and see a snowballing lack of confidence in our country's economic and political institutions that was considered impossible in America. I feel strongly that my vote in 2008 may well be the most important exercise of this civic duty in my life.
"Mr. Obama is a man of supple
intelligence, with a nuanced grasp of complex issues and evident skill at
conciliation and consensus-building. At home, we believe, he would respond to
the economic crisis with a healthy respect for markets tempered by justified
dismay over rising inequality and an understanding of the need for focused
regulation. Abroad, the best evidence suggests that he would seek to maintain
U.S. leadership and engagement, continue the fight against terrorists, and wage
vigorous diplomacy on behalf of U.S. values and interests. Mr. Obama has the
potential to become a great president. . . .
A McCain presidency would not equal
four more years [of the Bush administration], but outside of his inner circle,
Mr. McCain would draw on many of the same policymakers who have brought us to
our current state. We believe they have richly earned, and might even benefit
from, some years in the political wilderness. . . .
There are two sets of issues that
matter most in judging these candidacies. The first has to do with restoring
and promoting prosperity and sharing its fruits more evenly in a globalizing
era that has suppressed wages and heightened inequality. Here the choice is not
a close call. Mr. McCain has little interest in economics and no apparent feel
for the topic. His principal proposal, doubling down on the Bush tax cuts,
would exacerbate the fiscal wreckage and the inequality simultaneously. Mr.
Obama's economic plan contains its share of unaffordable promises, but it
pushes more in the direction of fairness and fiscal health. Both men have
pledged to tackle climate change. . . .
Mr. Obama also understands that the
most important single counter to inequality, and the best way to maintain
American competitiveness, is improved education, another subject of only modest
interest to Mr. McCain. . . .
A better health-care system also is
crucial to bolstering U.S. competitiveness and relieving worker insecurity. Mr.
McCain is right to advocate an end to the tax favoritism showed to employer
plans. This system works against lower-income people, and Mr. Obama has
disparaged the McCain proposal in deceptive ways. But Mr. McCain's health plan
doesn't do enough to protect those who cannot afford health insurance. Mr.
Obama hopes to steer the country toward universal coverage by charting a course
between government mandates and individual choice, though we question whether
his plan is affordable or does enough to contain costs. . . .
It is almost impossible to predict what
policies will be called for by January, but certainly the country will want in
its president a combination of nimbleness and steadfastness — precisely the
qualities Mr. Obama has displayed during the past few weeks. When he might have
been scoring political points against the incumbent, he instead responsibly
urged fellow Democrats in Congress to back Mr. Bush's financial rescue plan. He
has surrounded himself with top-notch, experienced, centrist economic advisers
– perhaps the best warranty that, unlike some past presidents of modest
experience, Mr. Obama will not ride into town determined to reinvent every
policy wheel. Some have disparaged Mr. Obama as too cool, but his
unflappability over the past few weeks — indeed, over two years of campaigning
– strikes us as exactly what Americans might want in their president at a time
of great uncertainty. . . .
…Mr. Obama, as anyone who reads his
books can tell, also has a sophisticated understanding of the world and
America's place in it. . . .We hope he would navigate between the amoral
realism of some in his party and the counterproductive cocksureness of the
current administration, especially in its first term. On most policies, such as
the need to go after al-Qaeda, check Iran's nuclear ambitions and fight
HIV/AIDS abroad, he differs little from Mr. Bush or Mr. McCain. But he promises
defter diplomacy and greater commitment to allies. His team overstates the
likelihood that either of those can produce dramatically better results, but
both are certainly worth trying. . . .
Thanks to the surge that Mr. Obama
opposed, it may be feasible to withdraw many troops during his first two years
in office. But if it isn't — and U.S. generals have warned that the hard-won
gains of the past 18 months could be lost by a precipitous withdrawal — we can
only hope and assume that Mr. Obama would recognize the strategic importance of
success in Iraq and adjust his plans. . . .
We also can only hope that the alarming
anti-trade rhetoric we have heard from Mr. Obama during the campaign would give
way to the understanding of the benefits of trade reflected in his writings. A
silver lining of the financial crisis may be the flexibility it gives Mr. Obama
to override some of the interest groups and members of Congress in his own
party who oppose open trade, as well as to pursue the entitlement reform that
he surely understands is needed. . . .
… the stress of a campaign can reveal
some essential truths, and the picture of Mr. McCain that emerged this year is
far from reassuring. To pass his party's tax-cut litmus test, he jettisoned his
commitment to balanced budgets. He hasn't come up with a coherent agenda, and
at times he has seemed rash and impulsive. And we find no way to square his
professed passion for America's national security with his choice of a running
mate who, no matter what her other strengths, is not prepared to be commander
in chief. . . .
… Mr. Obama's temperament is unlike
anything we've seen on the national stage in many years. He is deliberate but
not indecisive; eloquent but a master of substance and detail; preternaturally
confident but eager to hear opposing points of view. He has inspired millions
of voters of diverse ages and races, no small thing in our often divided and
cynical country. We think he is the right man for a perilous moment."