When former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama for president recently, he referred to him as a "transformational figure." By lending support to Obama, the former General becomes the latest in a long line of well-respected national figures to throw their lot in with the young Senator from Illinois.
Of course anything can happen, but at the moment, with just a few days remaining until the election, Barack Obama appears to have made the personal transformation from long shot wunderkind and political rock star to full-fledged, viable candidate for Guardian of the Dream.
Barack Obama has plainly revealed to his detractors that he is possessed of the kind of political sensibilities and personal gravitas one would expect of a true leader. Even though many no doubt disagree with a number of his stated positions on important issues, the most pressing need this time around is for a person with the ability to inspire, to reclaim the respect of foreign governments, and to re-state America's moral authority among the community of nations. Mr. Obama possesses these credentials.
Challenges for the next president - whoever he is - will demand transformations of another kind. Division, fear, and alienation need transforming into unity, hope, and belonging; arrogance, unilateralism, and mistrust need transforming into humility, collaboration, and confidence. However austere the convictions of the next Commander-in-Chief, they must be expressed with a calm and reassuring demeanor, not the shoot-from-the-hip, take-no-prisoners-or-if-you-do-torture-them approach that has done this country so much disservice the last eight years.
Disabling extremist political elements in countries like Iran, North Korea or Pakistan will only be achieved by removing their primary basis for legitimacy: the aggressive and threatening posture of a misguided U.S. foreign policy. Each of these countries, Iran in particular, is populated by masses wanting to see improved relations with the United States. A departure from the outgoing administration's confrontational policies is plainly called for. Barack Obama understands this need.
Thus, my 20-year political love affair with Ralph Nader is coming to an end. It was a good run. As for the growing allure of the Green Party, I want to make certain we at least take a first step in the right direction with a sensitive liberal and promising pragmatist like Mr. Obama.
The closer this political season gets to its day of reckoning, the clearer the message becomes: Barack Obama is ready to lead - and poised to transform.
2 years ago