[For a brief (and updated) list of reasons, see "Why Obama?: Reasons."]
On our anniversary (last May 17) my wife and I saw the new Narnia film Prince Caspian. I overheard a couple behind us talking about Obama. The wife said, "He's a good guy, isn't he?" The husband responded, "Well, he sounds good."
My experience over the past few months is that Obama not only sounds good--he's actually even better than he sounds. Time after time, when he's had to deal with difficult challenges, he's shown integrity, intelligence, and courage. I feel I've gotten to know him, not only by observing him during the primary season and beyond,but by learning about his life and reading what he has written.
I respect John McCain as well. We could certainly do much worse. But I enthusiastically support Obama.
My reasons include:
(1) Obama's remarkable character and capacity for leadership. I've heard a number of people say, "He inspires me to be my best self." He has motivated millions of people to participate in the political process and for many has revived hope that we can work together to solve problems rather than wallow in partisan bickering. I've been impressed by his honesty and genuineness; his desire to unite rather than divide; his ability to transcend ideology; his ability to lift and energize; his intelligence and good judgment; his calmness and dignity under stress; his efforts to be civil and respectful; his refusal to pander; his moral and spiritual grounding; his beautiful family; and his inspiring personal story.
(2) His intelligence and ability to see the various sides of an issue. Obama doesn't tend to jump to impulsive decisions or take simplistic views on difficult issues. He truly thinks things through and tries to come to a well-informed and balanced view of subjects. Rather than going to one extreme or the other on divisive issues, he looks for common ground where we can work together to resolve problems.
(3) His positions on the issues. I don't agree with him on everything, but I like his views on many issues that are important to me, including the Iraq War, foreign policy, immigration, and the environment. Those who accuse him of a lack of substance clearly haven't done their homework. He has detailed positions on many important issues, and you can easily find those positions. Try this link, for instance: "The Blueprint for Change: Barack Obama's Plan for America" (a PDF file with details of Obama's positions). Or this one: http://www.barackobama.com/issues/ (to link to Obama's positions on specific issues). To compare his views with mine, look at this summary of my views: "My views on the issues."
(4) My hope that he'll be able to help bring about needed change--in part because of his ability to get people involved at the grassroots level. Though it's hard to predict, I believe that Obama as president may well be able to provide leadership that will help us make progress in solving some of the problems we're faced with--in part because of Obama's ability to explain and persuade and his resistance to partisan pandering. I hope that Congress, and even more, the American people, give him a chance and come to appreciate his intelligence, good judgment, and genuine good will. He believes that real change comes from the bottom up, not from the top down. But I believe he may be able to inspire people from the grassroots level to the highest levels of government to work together in solving problems.
By the way, his campaign has done a great job of involving people at the grassroots level: anybody can volunteer to host an event (and hundreds have been held--including one we hosted and a couple we attended); there have been voter registration drives getting thousands of people involved in the political process for the first time; and the campaign even encouraged holding neighborhood meetings to give input into the party platform. It has been exciting to see participatory democracy in action. (For some personal stories, see http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/tag/hq-voices-for-change.)
Two further reasons I think electing Obama president would be a good thing:
(5) I think it's time for a major change in the White House--and though McCain would be at least somewhat different from Bush, I don't think having him as president would be enough of a change. I think it's time for the Democrats to have a turn.
(6) I believe Joe Biden would be a much better vice president than Sarah Palin.
To all of these reasons I would add some personal background. One reason I'm supporting Obama as enthusiastically as I am is that I've really enjoyed the excitement of being part of something so big, so positive, so historic. Here's a brief history of how my family and I have gotten involved.
Last year a friend gave my wife Dreams from My Father, Obama's memoir; she became an Obama supporter while I was still surveying the field. Ultimately, her enthusiasm was contagious--and three of our children (two of them voting age) became Obama supporters too. Since then we've contributed money and phonecalling time; I've commented on political blogs; I've talked to family, neighbors, and friends and even communicated with a superdelegate; and I've been involved in local political activities as an Obama supporter (I'm a precinct chair and county convention delegate in the local Democratic Party).
There have been ups and downs along the way, but I've almost been grateful for the challenging times because I've been so impressed by how Obama has handled things. I keep feeling, "He's even better than I thought he was." His speeches are among the best I've heard during over 40 years of being aware of such things. My wife and I were both deeply moved--and enlightened and inspired--by his speech on race and felt that it was a historic event, that we would not be surprised if our grandchildren were to study that speech in school some day. And a relative--no fan of Obama, I'm afraid--listened to his speech after the North Carolina primary and declared it one of the great political speeches he had heard.
Though I've been disappointed by the mean-spiritedness, even viciousness, of which people in both political camps are capable of, I trust the ability of the American people in general to respond to goodness and truth. With the belief that my trust is well placed, I'm hopeful that Obama's positive approach and his capacity to unite can help inspire Americans to join to healing our divisions and solving problems. I believe Obama has the potential to be a truly great president.