Editor's note: This post is part of series called Meet the Candidates in which Bilerico contributors write about why they are supporting their chosen candidate.
Leadership means taking the lead and it also means taking risks. Whenever leaders announce their personal political endorsements it spurs discussion, debate and disagreement, and I have decided to go public with my presidential endorsement for the 2008 election. I have endorsed John Edwards. My endorsement is not the endorsement of any organization I am affiliated with, it is my personal choice alone. And I hope it will bring other Edwards supporters out of the closet.
Time is ticking and many GLBT folks are either undecided, torn or defaulting to whoever wins the Democratic primary. Let's talk about some of the other contenders first. Of course Senator Mike Gravel and Congressman Dennis Kucinich are the most pro-GLBT candidates in the race. I actually would love for Kucinich to be my president because he is a dreamer, a true progressive, intelligent and would make politics fun again. Gravel and Kucinich, however, are simply not viable. Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd are also strong and solid liberals, but they continue to lack traction among Democrats nationally.
Now let's talk about Hillary Clinton. I think Hillary would make a fine president. I think she has tons of political experience, she is solid on issues of GLBT and abortion rights and she would be a considerable breath of fresh air from our current Tyrant in Chief. My main fears about Clinton are that she will govern from the middle instead of the left and that she is too pro-war. She may very well be the only Democratic candidate for president that could lose the election because she irritates conservatives so much. If she is the nominee, Republicans will work even harder to defeat a Democratic candidate. I believe perceptions about her liberal views could be a drain on the ticket and we could stifle what would otherwise be strong gains for Democrats next November.
Barack Obama is an amazingly optimistic and capable candidate. I would be proud to call him my president, but I fear that despite his impressive grassroots campaign and huge number of donors, he may not be able to pull it off this time. His recent gaffe of not distancing himself enough from an "ex-gay" campaigner has permanently injured his campaign among GLBT supporters.
John Edwards is the only viable candidate in the Democratic primary that makes me proud. He campaigns hard on progressive platform issues like ensuring health care for all Americans and ending poverty. Edwards has earned the key endorsement of the Service Employees International Union which helped raise 65 million dollars for Kerry in 2004. This will help him advance in early primaries like Iowa.
Edwards is polished and rarely misspeaks his position. He is solid, confident and bold in his pronouncements about what is good for America. He also connects with conservative Democrats and anti-war Republicans in a genuine way that Hillary Clinton has not yet been able to do. He also seems committed to talking about the issues that are underlying many other social ills. Poverty causes crime and traps individuals and families in an almost permanent rut. Lack of health insurance is the leading reason individuals are now filing for bankruptcy. The cycle of attacks on the middle and lower class must end and Edwards has the best plan to ease the burden.
The interesting thing about Edwards is that he seems to enjoy more support below the surface than he does in the polls. After multiple surveys of my different circles of friends I have found that nearly everyone is either publicly supporting Clinton or privately rooting for Edwards, but not necessarily in that order. Whenever I tell people that Edwards is my favorite the response I get is usually one of quiet relief. Eighty percent of the time, supporters will say, "He's my favorite too, but I haven't told anyone that." As if supporting him were like admitting you belong to a coven or something. My goal with endorsing Edwards now is to bring those folks out from hiding.
Most GLBT leaders have been relatively quiet about their favorite candidate. In order for healthy debate to occur it needs to happen sooner than later. Please write in the comments section your thoughts about the Democratic primary.
(This was originally posted at Between the Lines.)