I'm a member of a mailing list with a broad cross-section of women on it: Very conservative, very liberal, and everyone in between. The undecideds on the list asked both me and the resident Republican activist to write up why we support the candidate we do, with as little bashing of the opponent as possible. This is the letter I wrote them about why I support Barack Obama. If it can help you with your undecided friends, please pass it on.
I was asked to tell the undecideds here why I support Barack Obama. I've been thinking hard about this; I want to talk to you honestly. You all know where I stand on things: I am a libertarian Democrat (small L, big D). Government is rarely the best solution, but when it is, it had better serve the common people. Initially I had a much, MUCH longer statement, but instead I have decided to boil it down.
The short version: I support Obama because he's right on the issues, and he has the right temperament for the times.
On the issues, you can just go to the candidates' websites and get comprehensive statements from both of them. They are nearly polar opposites on everything from choice to the war to the economy. As just one example, McCain promises to overturn Roe v Wade by making it a litmus test for the many Supreme Court appointees the next president will most definitely have, while Obama doesn't just promise to maintain choice but also is the original co-sponsor of legislation to make family planning services and education more available and end insurance company discrimination on birth control (the Prevention First Act of 2007).
But if the issues are not enough for you, there are the matters of temperament and leadership.
Barack Obama is a grown-up. He is not a drama queen. He makes his choices thoughtfully, deliberately, pragmatically and based on not just his instincts but also on the best information he can get. He surrounds himself with other grown-ups, and he knows how to delegate. He rarely loses his cool in public--I have yet to see it.
At the same time, he has a vision for where he wants to take this country. It is toward a country where we don't torture our prisoners, where we go to war because we have to not because we want to, where the government works for the people not the ultra-rich, and where real tax relief goes to the middle class, not the top 1% of Americans. We are headed into tough times. Obama makes me feel hope that we can face them, and we need hope more than anything right now.
Obama wants to bring us together so that we can get through the hard years coming--hard years that are a direct result of 28 net years (out of 40) of Republican leadership, most of the last 8 with the GOP holding all three branches of government. In 8 years, the Republicans led by and supporting George Bush have run this nation into the ground on every single front. Now they've given us a candidate with no clear vision of why he's running other than "it's my turn," the same reason elderly Republican statesmen have given for years (see "Bob Dole"). His own autobiography, written just six years ago, says so.
Obama is young, energetic, a leader, slow to anger, confident in his positions but not so arrogant he won't listen. He was first in his class at Harvard Law, headed a large staff as head of the Law Review, and taught the Constitution for eight years; this is a very, very bright man. He is not a man in favor of the unitary executive--the idea that if the President does it, it's by definition not illegal. He believes in oversight. He is the transformative man, the man who may very well heal our racial divides just by his existence, or at least come a good ways towards that healing. He is inspirational, and his life is almost a textbook example of the Horatio Alger story conservative Americans claim to love. He is the kind of man we need to help us through the next eight years.
His opponent will be a lame duck on election--no one believes he'll run for a second term at age 76--which will leave us with Mrs Palin. After the last week of seeing who she truly is in non-managed interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric, the last an interview so bad that Saturday Night Live didn't even write a skit, they just used her quotations verbatim, I want you to think hard about that.
The contrast between Obama and Biden, and McCain and Palin, could not be more stark. The paths for our country they offer could not be more different.
We can continue down the single-file Republican path, each of us on our own, while the GOP manipulates bogeymen puppets behind every creepy, overhanging tree--boo! it's terrorists! boo! it's gay people getting married!
Or we can choose a new path entirely, one sunny with hope, broad enough where we can walk side by side, together, toward the future, where there are no bogeymen behind the trees but challenges along the way for us to solve. Together.
The choice is yours.