I just got back from a 30 mile ride — which makes 110 miles so far for my first (hopefully) 200+ mile week. As you can imagine, spending time alone on the bike gives me quite a bit of time to think. I use the time to pray, plan my day or just think. This past week, politics have been on my mind quite a bit. It all started at my grandfather’s funeral. His death was not unexpected. He had suffered a stroke the weekend before and died peacefully in his sleep during the week. Still, as an impromptu reunion of my (fairly conservative) extended family during the final days leading up to a presidential election, we had some interesting conversations. Since they all know I worked on a campaign for a Democratic nominee for president when Bush was up for re-election, one of the first questions I’m asked is: “Who are you voting for?” I’ve stepped out of the Protestant, Republican straight jacket, so I’m not quite as predictable politically. (I get the feeling that I experienced a smidgen of what William F. Buckley’s son went through.) Just to be clear: back in 2000, I was rooting for McCain. He was (is?) a man who stood up for what he believed in. I was no fan of Gore and thought McCain was the best of the Republican lot. But no matter. That was during my “I don’t vote” phase. However, in the past eight years, I got to know McCain better. And it seemed like McCain changed. A former victim of torture, he went soft on torture. In the debates, he specifically listed veteran’s benefits and war spending as one of the programs exempt from his idiotic “spending freeze”. If we’re going to freeze spending, why exempt those? It seems like blatant pandering to vets. His ambition to be president is consuming him. And, in the past couple of weeks, it looked like his campaign ran away from him. When he had previously said he would run a clean campaign, his running mate started accusing Obama of “pallin’ around with terrorists“. And that’s another thing: while I think Palin was a smart choice to shore up the “base” of voters and make McCain 50 times more appealing to Evangelicals (my bother admitted McCain didn’t interest him until Palin was selected because she seems to be a devout member of the Assemblies of God church), I don’t think she is qualified. She does look, as one person reported, “shockingly amateurish“. So those are reasons to vote against McCain. I’m sure that if I wanted to (because, to be frank, I knew I was going to vote for Obama before many of these reasons came out) I could find just as many damning statements to make against Obama. But that is part of what I don’t like about the campaign against Obama. Much of it (“Nobama”, “Barack Hussain Obama”) seems childish and stupid. Sure, that sort of stuff works for some people. But it isn’t attractive to me. And just to be clear, if I was going to let someone’s associates scare me away (Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, ACORN), I wouldn’t have anyone to vote for (Keating Five, ACORN, William Timmons). What about the issues? There was one consistent reason my family gave for voting against Obama: Abortion. Make no mistake: I do not like Obama’s position. But, suppose I thought I had to vote my concience on this issue alone. Suppose I thought that I must vote for a pro-life candidate. Neither party, the Republicans nor the Democrats, has given me that choice. McCain is not pro-life. But he’ll appoint conservative judges! Doubtful. McCain isn’t that conservative. And trying to get a clearly pro-life judge through a Democratically controlled senate just isn’t going to happen, even if that was what McCain wanted to do. From my point of view, there isn’t much else to consider. The economy? McCain is flailing around on the economy and doesn’t seem to have any ideas. He admitted long ago that he doesn’t know anything about the economy. Not that Obama is much better here. Since the economy tanked under the Republicans, the Democratic nominee gets all the political benefit without any work. In the end, it does come down to personality. Obama has more control over his temper. He can inspire people. He can think big while still being aware of budgetary constraints. I doubt he’ll be able to cut taxes as much as he says on those making less than $250,000, but at least he is honest about saying that we do have to pay for programs by raising money somewhere. Other people can push their candidate better than I can. I’m not looking for a savior in the political arena. I’m not even looking for the person who best represents what I believe. I’m not keeping track of promises, since, from a politician who has to push most of his ideas through two houses of congress, they’re meaningless. I’m looking for someone who can lead. Someone who can inspire people. Someone who can deal with people respectfully. Someone with an actual chance of being elected. For now, that person appears to be Obama.