I wrote about why I supported Obama back in February. It seems like eons ago. For me the choice between Obama and McCain is far simpler than the one between Obama and Hillary Clinton was. But the four arguments for Obama that I offered six months ago all still hold:
Pressing the reset button internationally — We need a president who can start over with the rest of the world. It’s obvious.
The “Muslim factor” — the lies about Obama’s religion are a pathetic effort to sway the ignorant. But Obama does have a different understanding of the world thanks to having spent some time as a kid in Indonesia. It will help the U.S. to have a president who actually knows something about Islam.
Electability — “Rather than limiting a Democratic campaign to a desperate hunt for one point over the 50-50 line that has marked Bush-era politics, Obama’s new throngs could tip the election in a stalemate-breaking way,” I wrote in February. Tomorrow we’ll know whether that proves out, as all indications suggest it will.
Positive vibration — “It’s hard to remember any political campaign as relentlessly upbeat as Obama’s, or as unwilling to sling mud.” Though the race certainly got tougher on all sides, I think that judgment still holds. To the extent that Obama has campaigned negatively, he has taken aim largely against the failed policies and record of the GOP, not against the person of John McCain. Like many Democrats, I worried back then whether Obama was “ready to rumble” when the Rovian attacks kicked in. But we were wrong. Obama and his team understood that the sharp counterattacks that please his partisans turn off voters in the undecided middle. He kept his eyes steadily on that prize. It has paid off beautifully in the last six weeks, when he could say, accurately, that he’s talked nonstop about the economy while McCain has talked nonstop about…him.
To these arguments, we can now add one more crucial one that has emerged: the even keel.
People are scared, and have been since the market meltdown in mid-September. They want to elect a president who looks like he’s able to figure out an effective strategy to revive the economy and then apply a steady hand in executing it. Anyone who’s been paying attention to Obama can see such qualities in the way he has run his campaign. McCain’s strategy of the week approach, by contrast, feels erratic and opportunistic. (And that’s not even bringing up Sarah Palin.)
The campaign started with McCain as the choice of voters seeking steadiness and reassurance and Obama looking like something of a gamble on the unknown. But we ended the campaign with the two exactly reversed. Of course other factors have been vital: the Obama campaign’s passionate organizing on the ground, the intelligence and heart of the candidate’s speeches, the astonishingly effective online fundraising from small donors, and the determination to contest the election beyond the old red/blue state lines.
But in the end, I believe Obama will win tomorrow because he is the candidate who has earned voters’ trust: trust that he can begin to solve the nation’s myriad problems; trust that he can begin to unwind the Bush legacy; trust that he can handle whatever comes up.
He is the unlikeliest candidate ever, and he had to go a lot further to earn that trust than his opponent. He has amazed us all by going even further than we dreamed.
There are no revisions for this post.