Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Is Barack Obama a real changemaker, or is he just a slicker-than-usual politician?

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama has taken the first step toward running for president, and I am left wondering if he is for real.

Is he truly a changemaker? Can he help us break out of politics as usual? On the surface, he certainly sounds like he a true seeker after change. He knows the right things to say. For example, in yesterday's announcement that he is forming a committee to explore running for president, Obama said:
"I've been struck by how hungry we all are for a different kind of politics."
That is most decidedly an understatement.

I am starving for politics that go beyond conservative or liberal, left or right. I am starving for politicians that care more about good government than power. I am desperate for leaders who have dealt with enough of their own hang-ups to act authentically and courageously.

Is Obama such a person? I think the jury is still out, but there are some positive signs. For example, PlanetOut news reports:
In 1996, he was elected to the Illinois state Senate, where he earned a reputation as a consensus-building Democrat who was strongly liberal on social and economic issues. He supported gay rights, abortion rights, gun control, universal health care and tax breaks for the poor, but set himself apart from others by working with opponents to resolve policy disagreements and refusing to become a rubber stamp for his allies.
Those are all good signs, at least to me. However, only time will tell if Obama really is who he claims to be, and if he has the wisdom and maturity to be the leader we need.

By the way, you can watch Obama's video statement at his campaign web site.

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