While picking a big victory only a month or so ago is hardly noteworthy, I don't mind reprinting the post I wrote the day after he announced. At the time I was not only hopeful for the prospects of Obama as a candidate, but also optimistic that the country would be ready for his brand of leadership.
Public Service (Originally posted on February 11, 2007)
Yesterday was such an extraordinary day in U.S. history that it warrants a Sunday departure from client service to public service. At the old State Capitol Building in Springfield, Illinois, U.S. Senator Barack Obama electrified a crowd of several thousand to declare his candidacy for President of the United States. At the same place where Lincoln spoke of America as a house divided and challenged its citizens to recall the values of the nation's founding fathers, Obama asked America to join a collective campaign to unite us once again. To join a campaign for hope.
Though there are many political lifetimes between now and November of 2008, we may have witnessed the announcement of the next President of the United States. The prospect of winning is daunting to say the least. Obama has only been in the U.S. Senate for two years. If he were to win, he'd be the only Senator other than Warren Harding and John Kennedy to be elected to our nation's highest office.* What's more, he'd be the first African-American president in our country's history.
I'm sure there may be countless other reasons why Obama's prospects for victory are improbable. That's why his courage is so compelling. Yesterday, he invited America to get to know him better. To join his journey of hope. To share his vision for an America that can regain a positive standing in the world. To offer average voters a voice in Washington, and to unite a country that has been carved and divided between red states and blue states for too long.
The reason I think he'll win is because of what has shaped him. I'm not talking about his parents, mixed race background, political experience, or his time at Harvard Law School. Obama's greatest asset is his experience as a community organizer. It should be required duty for anyone who plans to run for public office. Grassroots community service promotes people who listen, people who care about the challenges that face average Americans, and those who truly understand that one person can make a difference.
Obama is a once in a generation candidate whose commitment to public service is actually greater than his personal ambition. He's a powerful combination of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Whether one is a Republican, Democrat or Independent, we owe it to ourselves as a country to listen as Obama makes his case for hope.
I'm ready to listen and maybe even get involved. In another lifetime, I was very engaged in political campaigns at the national level, but the changes that have occurred in how Presidential campaigns have been run since 1988 caused me to walk away from a process I once loved. If nothing else, we should applaud Obama's candidacy because we're likely to see a positive shift in how candidates and the news media conduct themselves in a Presidential campaign. We can only hope.
*For historical clarification, I should have been more specific, as there have been 15 U.S. Senators who have served as President, but only two elected directly from the Senate to the Presidency.
This blog will return to the topic of client service next week.