To echo the words of Bobby Kennedy in 1968, This is no ordinary time, and this is no ordinary election. The list of crises that the new president will have to face on inauguration day is more daunting than at any other time in recent memory. Economic uncertainty is at its peak as the stock market plunges and lawmakers and the American public alike view possible remedies suspiciously. An energy crisis threatens Americas families and industries, depleting our oil reserves and our savings even as the global climate crisis makes our need for alternative fuels abundantly clear. Millions of Americans are without health insurance, and many more are struggling to get by with what they have. Children are being left behind in inner cities and underserved communities, and even for the lucky ones, college is often out of reach. Hostile nations like Iran and North Korea continue their pursuit of nuclear weapons, and radical terrorists threaten our security at home. Meanwhile, American men and women teenagers and young adults are at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, fighting and dying in strange lands far away from home.
In one weeks time, in the midst of these national and international emergencies, a new leader will stand up to take charge of a country that has lost its way, lost its standing and lost its hope. A new leader will rally the dispirited masses of America to stand up to the tyranny of hopelessness and despair and to forge a new American way.
The Daily endorses Sen. Barack Obama.
In this contest, the American people have had the benefit of choosing between two honorable and eminently qualified candidates.
Sen. John McCain distinguished himself in the wake of the Keating Five scandal by standing up to special interests. He refused to hew to party orthodoxy and gained respect as a man who spoke his mind and lived his values, a man who did the peoples business and not merely his own. He was that rare politician who could be trusted to explain himself and level with the American people. His word inspired trust.
Sen. Obama struggled with his own identity as the son of an absent black farmer from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas; from the corridors of Harvard Law School to the streets of the south side of Chicago to chambers of the Illinois state Senate, he has inspired respect and admiration for his ability to bring people together. Over the last two years, he has exhibited his intellectual vigor and his leadership to the American people and has spoken intelligently and movingly about the challenges we face and the solutions we seek.
At the Democratic National Convention in 2004, the young state senator from Illinois spoke movingly about his vision of America.
If there is a child on the south side of Chicago who cant read, that matters to me, even if its not my child. If there is a senior citizen somewhere who cant pay for their prescription drugs, and is having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if its not my grandparent. If theres an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It is that fundamental belief I am my brothers keeper, I am my sisters keeper that makes this country work. Its what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one American family.
This principle of mutual responsibility drives Obamas policies. His health care plan, which would save the average family $2,500 and force insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, includes a Small Businesses Health Tax Credit to help small businesses provide the health insurance that their employees desperately need. His economic policy contains a tax cut for middle-class families and a plan to expand and improve transition ssistance for people who have lost their jobs and need training for new ones. His governing policies revolve around the philosophy that if people are doing all they can and still need help, then we have a responsibility to do our best to help them succeed. That is not Marxist or socialist, as some in the McCain campaign have accused. Instead, it is a fundamentally American idea that we are bound together not by color or creed, but by a belief that we are in this together part of the grand democratic experiment that endures from sea to shining sea.
On foreign policy, Obama often quotes John F. Kennedy: We must never negotiate out of fear, but we must never fear to negotiate. Unlike McCain, who has at times suggested expelling Russia from the G8, creating a separate League of Democracies, and threatening both China and Iran with military action, Obama advocates a policy of forceful negotiation whenever possible. He believes that seeking comprehensive settlements not only with our friends but more importantly with our enemies is the key to responsible foreign policy and the best way to avoid military action. We feel that Obama has the strength of judgment and character to successfully lead America on the world stage.
The Daily respects McCain enormously for his service to the country both as a Navy officer in Vietnam and as a public servant in the United States. In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, he told the story of his imprisonment and the brutal torture that defies comprehension.
I fell in love with my country, he said, when I was a prisoner in someone elses. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasnt my own man anymore. I was my countrys.
Seldom has there been such a moving affirmation of what it means to be American, and McCains testimony was heartbreakingly beautiful. This was the John McCain who could be president of the United States, the president we could believe in. This was the leader who believed in us. This was a man who understood that being American is not about where you are born, what you look like, or whether you submit to a Higher Power. This was a man who understood that America is that apocryphal seven-year-old Muslim boy Colin Powell described who looks up at the majesty of the White House and believes that he might love his country enough to one day be president of the United States.
We wish that this was the man who had run for president. Instead, we saw a man who desperately wanted to win and had forgotten why; who fought like someone who knew it was his last chance to be called Mr. President and not his last chance to serve his country. We have been dismayed by McCains identification of real Americans, by the selection of an unqualified nationalist to protect Americans in his stead, and by his own quiet acquiescence to those agents of intolerance who equate blind jingoism with something as wonderful and complicated as love of country. We desperately hope that when this long and grueling campaign is over and the consultants have been sent on their way and the demons of presidential ambition have been exorcized, the John McCain we remember is the man who will remain.
And he will have our respect again.
These years ahead will not be easy. Change, as Obama warns, requires sacrifice and fortitude. No president can solve these problems on his or her own. But in 2004, at the close of his speech, he expressed his confidence in the judgment, the optimism and the virtue of the American people.
America! Tonight, if you feel the same energy that I do, if you feel the same urgency that I do if you feel the same passion that I do, if you feel the same hopefulness that I do if we do what we must do, then I have no doubt that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November This country will reclaim its promise, and out of this long political darkness, a brighter day will come.
All across this country, Americans are feeling that urgency as the storm clouds of recession and international crisis gather overhead. All across this country, Americans are feeling that passion as young people canvass and first-time voters stand in line for hours to cast their ballots. All across this country, Americans are feeling that hopefulness as they steel themselves for the coming battle against desperation and despair.
Nine months ago, we wrote in our endorsement of Obama in the Democratic primaries, A leader can only be truly great if he or she understands the exceptionality of the moment. We need a president who can heal this nation and bring us together after the backbiting and severe polarization of the last twenty years. The American people are tired of pessimism, tired of lies and equivocations, tired, as Obama said in 2004, of the pundits who like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states.
We believe that Sen. Obama understands the importance of this moment and that he has the intelligence, the temperament and the judgment to lead Americans all Americans to those brighter days ahead.