May 1, 2008
I am a 66-year-old white woman and lifelong Democrat. I have lived in Utah for 24 years. Throughout my career, I worked for the advancement of women, mentoring younger women and establishing networks, including the first executive women’s network in Washington, D.C., and a network for female U.N. delegates in Geneva, Switzerland, when I was a U.S. delegate. As an appointee in President Carter’s administration at the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, I created programs to assist financial institutions owned by women and served on White House Task Forces on women’s issues. I taught a course at the University of Utah on Women and the Law. Now, as a counselor and author, I focus on empowering women and helping them live fulfilling lives.
My dream has been to see a woman become president. A year ago I could not have imagined voting for anyone other than Senator Clinton.
Curiosity propelled me to Senator Obama’s appearance near my home in Park City. It was supposed to be a drive-by. But when Obama saw hundreds of people jammed in a field near the Olympic Park Visitor’s Center, he talked extemporaneously for a half hour. At first applause was polite and tentative. By the end of his talk, we were cheering at the top of our lungs.
I knew I had witnessed something extraordinary. Obama spoke without notes, not in sound bites, but with facts and a depth I’d never heard from candidates. More impressive was his obvious concern for all people, whatever their race or economic status. He did not talk down to us. He respected our intelligence and said what he believed, even though it might not be what we wanted to hear.
In a mere half hour, he inspired us to believe there was hope for our country and that change could occur, even in politics. He encouraged us to be better and do better for our country. I experienced the same chills I had listening to President Kennedy’s inauguration speech, and speeches of other great leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King. I knew I was in the presence of greatness.
Despite cynicism born of too many political betrayals, we still recognize the ring of truth in our hearts. Whether or not we agree with all of Obama’s positions, we respond to the vibration of truth.
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We know in our hearts that peace can only be achieved by talking to leaders we don’t like, as Kennedy did when he averted a nuclear holocaust during the Cuban missile crisis in phone conversations with Khrushchev. The question occurred to me: Who has the intelligence and diplomatic skills to most effectively handle a situation similar to the Cuban missile crisis, such as might arise with North Korea or Iran?
I listened to Senator Obama’s speeches and interviews and read both of his books. His first book, "Dreams of My Father," written in law school before he ran for public office, is the most personally revealing and impressed me as a counselor. It shows the development of Obama’s character and compassion through overcoming childhood hurts and challenges – and an understanding of himself and others unusual for someone as young as he was at the time.
"The Audacity of Hope" explains Obama’s political positions with a profound grasp of the historical roots and complexities of issues facing our country. His intelligence is extraordinary and what our country desperately needs to bring us out of the mess we’re in.
Comparing these books with Senator Clinton’s books, "Living History" and "It Takes a Village," both of which were ghost-written, provides clearer pictures of the candidates.
Senator Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago, one of the most prestigious law schools in the country, an honor for which few professors are selected. Obama is clearly the candidate with the experience necessary to lead us out of our constitutional crisis and preserve our democracy.
Finally, and most important, I am deeply disappointed by Senator Clinton’s lies and mudslinging. She accused Obama of being racist in a TV ad concocted from misleading out-of-context statements made years ago by a church pastor, statements Obama did not endorse or approve. Her charges are ludicrous in light of Obama’s love and admiration for his white mother who raised him. Clinton is feeding racial fears and tearing our country apart instead of uniting us.
Another TV ad boasts of Clinton’s "35 years of experience." Her many lies about her "experience" have recently been exposed.
While I realize it is unfair to expect women to be better than men, having women engage in the same dirty tricks as men is not the equality I have worked for. As much as I want a woman to be president, I cannot in good conscience vote for Senator Clinton.
I believe our priority must be electing an inspiring leader who will unite and uplift us, the person with the most integrity and intelligence. My conclusion is that Senator Obama is that person.
Character matters. In choosing a president at this critical time, gender becomes irrelevant.