I've missed being able to follow the Democratic nomination between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama while in Italy.

As I write today, the inevitable nomination of Barack Obama has come to pass. He's got the right amount delegates, and depending on the math, the popular vote. Most of my closest friends know that I have been very skeptical of Mr. Obama throughout the process, as a devout Hillary supporter in the primaries.

Hillary Clinton's experience as a public servant for the past 40 years, dating all the way back to her excellent College graduation speech, has always been inspiring to me.

However, not everyone feels this way. I find that many people dislike Hillary because she's "cold," "distant," or "conniving." This to me has always been a silly reason to outright hate her, because it has little to do with what she stands for.

In fact, if you look at her record, she has been dedicated to helping people throughout her career. Her Methodist youth pastor in the 1960's first taught her this importance, reminiscent of my own former pastor, who has been a great teacher in my life.

To me, Christians who reject the causes she has championed, such as Healthcare and other services, should take a hard look at their Bible. These people are self-serving Pharisees who seek to advance their own wealth, rather than remembering the needy who must have our help.

Indeed, her causes have not always be popular among this "Pharisee class," but they have always taught me to be a voice for those who don't have the money or the privilege be heard. Sure, she and President Clinton have amassed many material goods -- yet they have never forgotten their cause.

Yet, despite all of her qualifications and dedication, Hillary Clinton lost. Not only did she lose, but she lost to a first term U.S. Senator who has barely been in office 2 years. I simply haven't understood this phenomenon. In whose right mind would anyone vote for someone so lacking in experience? Sen. Barack Obama is a great public speaker, but there is much more to politics and leadership than speech making (though it is an important component, no doubt).

With all of this in mind, it has become very important to learn about the Democratic nominee before making an informed decision as to who I will vote for in November. Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton have always been very similar as far as their agendas are concerned.

While some may not agree with these policies, I would hope they would realize the policies of the current administration have failed miserably. Thus, with his securing the nomination, it has been important for me to discover more about his past.

Yesterday, I had the distinct pleasure to learn more about the Senator in "Obama: from Promise to Power," written by the Chicago Tribune's David Mendell. The book is a very unbiased approach that gives readers a clear perspective on his life story, which you aren't likely to find in his own books. I learned the following:

  • He's Ambitious...and always has been. In fact, I would argue that all presidential candidates are. I reject the notion that any candidate runs to enter the Oval Office with completely selfless reasons -- it's a very egotistical job.
  • His father was absent. Obama, Sr. fathered multiple children with multiple wives, only meeting his son Barack twice during his life, having very little impact on the Senator. Barack's mother and grandmother are a much better indicator of his upbringing. However, the Obama, Sr. was brilliant, being a Harvard Scholarship recipient. Those who argue the Senator is "Muslim" by his father's influence are not only downright ignorant, but stupid. He's probably somewhere between a secular humanist and a liberal Christian.
  • Barack is Bipartisan. When he was editor of the Harvard Law Review (the most prestigious legal publication in the country), the Senator placed conservatives who were against his ideological beliefs in editorial roles to maintain balance in the publication.
  • He didn't jump into politics. In fact, Obama spent his years before Harvard as a community builder in low-income Chicago. When he couldn't get churches from around the city to work together and help the poor (due to prejudice), he went to Harvard Law believing legal work would be the way to help them out.
  • He spent time in a third world country. After spending his earliest years in Hawaii, Mr. Obama went to live in Indonesia with his single mother (who was in the Peace Corps), where he experienced first hand the suffering of poverty. After Obama had an accident with barbed wire, the family returned to Hawaii. It was there he completed his education at a white, elite private school.

Does he have experience? Not in the sense that Hillary does. However, he has the tools to be a very successful leader:

  1. He's articulate. Obama writes the first draft of every speech he gives. Interestingly enough, he has an incredibly difficult time delivering pieces that speechwriters have penned. I'd love to see what a George W. speech would look like if he wrote it...
  2. He's liberally educated. In the sense of "liberal arts," the Senator has got everything it takes -- with an undergraduate degree from a small school in California, and a diploma from Harvard Law. That's not even mentioning his real life experiences, ranging from running a poor community in Chicago, living in a third-world country, or dealing with life in a single-parent home.
  3. He's fluent in policy. I would pit a former editor of the Harvard Law Review against anyone. Additionally, as a former College professor, the Senator even taught law before he went into politics. He understands it up and down, which would make him an excellent candidate to craft policy.

As we all know, the Republican nominee is Sen. John McCain, a man who I have always admired. In fact, through my studies at American and Georgetown Universities in during my high school years, he was someone I followed.

He was neither Republican or Democrat to me, but rather an "affiliated Independent," who always voted his mind. This is an admirable trait to me.

Unfortunately, Sen. McCain has chosen to tie himself to the policies of the past eight years by aligning with President Bush. To achieve the presidency, he has sold out on the values he has held throughout his career, in an effort to appeal to a base which has never liked him.

When I survey our country today, I see a tarnished flag that no longer wraps the blessings of freedom around its people.

We are no longer a place where all men are created equal, but rather a society that gives only the privileged and well-endowed the right to succeed.

We're piled up so high in debt that we can't afford to save for retirement, pay for a college education, or help the elderly who can't pay for their medicine. Ultimately, America is stuck in a war abroad, while we fight to stay afloat at home.

From sea to shining sea, the people cry for a new direction, and for new leadership that will restore the American flag domestically and abroad.

With more hope and inspiration than ever, I will be throwing my support behind Sen. Obama in the fall election, and plan to do everything I can to get involved and ensure that this man of considerable intelligence and education will be our next President.

While he wasn't what I was initially looking for, it is not a concession to say "he is the next best choice," implying he is a secondary choice because my candidate lost. He is just as ready to lead on day one, but for a different set of reasons.

I still believe that in this country, those who work hard will be rewarded, even if you come up a little short. Our dreams still live, even if things don't end up the way we planned or expected.

Ciao,
James