Election Day

I made up my mind long ago to vote for Barack Obama.  My confidence in that choice has only grown.  Today is the moment of truth.

To Obama supporters, this is not the time to ease up.  If we lose this thing now, we have no one to blame but ourselves.  I’m spending the day as an Election Observer in a working class precinct, to ensure everyone can exercise their right to vote.  (It’s scary that the Obama campaign needs to mobilize thousands of lawyers to defend the democratic process in the world’s leading democracy, but that’s the reality after 2000 and 2004.)  Please, if you want Obama to win, take a few minutes to encourage your friends, or a few hours to make calls and knock on doors to get out the vote.  Stand in line as long as it takes to cast your vote.  Remember, the next four years — and much beyond — depend on what happens today.

And if, somehow, you’re still undecided, let me make one final pitch.

There are many reasons to vote for Obama on the issues. His early opposition to the Iraq War and his steady response to the recent financial crisis give an indication of how well he reacts to challenges. On technology, the focus of my career and the foundation for our economy going forward, there is simply no comparison between the candidates.  Obama gets it, deeply gets it.  Just look at how masterfully his campaign leveraged the Net.  McCain simply repeats the old ideological mantras.  Ask yourself this: did Larry and Sergey decide whether to start Google based on marginal tax rates?  Was it pure luck the Internet revolution centered on the United States, or did good policies have something to do with it?  (Conversely, is it pure luck that other countries are surpassing us in broadband today?)  And why are we not using the most empowering technologies ever developed to make our government and society more transparent and more efficient?  As Obama says, we don’t need more or less government, we need competent government.  Now, more than ever.

In the end, though, the issues aren’t the entire story.  At a difficult moment in our history, would you rather remember that you voted out of hope or fear?  Would you rather recall that you supported the candidate who has gone weeks running nothing but negative ads, mostly vicious attacks on his opponent’s patriotism, honor, and ethics?  (Because if McCain wins, that will be the political playbook for every candidate of the foreseeable future.)  If you agree the country is on the wrong track, do you want to give another term to the party that has been running it for eight years?  Do you want the storyline on Wednesday and beyond to be, “America repudiates the policies of George W. Bush and the politics of Karl Rove,” or would you prefer, “Americans decide they aren’t ready for change?”  Because that is our choice.

One final reason, lost in the hurlyburly of the campaign.  When I tuck my two children in at night, I tell them: You can be anything you want to be.  Isn’t that what every parent believes?  And then I think: If Barack Obama can become the President of the United States of America, so can anyone who works hard, gets a good education, and devotes him or herself to public service.  If the American people respond to Obama’s intelligence and good judgment and leadership, there is something right about the country I will leave to my children.

Obama is not perfect, and he may fail.  That’s true of us all.  There is no easy or quick way out of the dark corner George W. Bush and his cronies led us into.  Obama isn’t pretending otherwise.  But as Colin Powell and Warren Buffett and Francis Fukuyama and Eric Schmidt and The Economist and many others have acknowledged, Obama has come through the great trial of a two-year campaign and shown that he deserves our vote.  Those are the kinds of “associations” I trust.  His thoughtfulness and steadfastness are there for all to see.  He has surrounded himself with brilliant, experienced advisors of all ideological stripes, which is important because, well, it takes a village to run a country.

So put aside the caricatures and the carefully-planted doubts, and just listen to what the man is saying.  Obama is ending the campaign where it began, and where he started four years ago in his famous speech at the Democratic Convention: talking about bridging the divides that separate Americans from each other, and from the world.  That’s what we need in a President today.  Let’s make it happen.