I have goosebumps.

How can I not? Less than a year ago I wrote that I did not need goosebumps to support a real leader who will take this nation to a new place. Watching Barack Obama's speech announcing his Presidential candidacy, I was intrigued and proud but not particularly "moved." I hoped for goosebumps and wasn't getting them. I wanted to believe again in the possibility of an inspirational President of these United States. (Maybe I needed confirmation that the racial pain accompanying my own attempt to enter Congress in 2006 could be cleansed for me through the success of another multi-racial political figure.) For me, Obama had some appeal, but so did John Edwards and so did Senator Hillary Clinton.

So much has changed since then. Now, less than one year later, we clearly have a leader ... and the goosebumps are plentiful and free!

The Obama victory in South Carolina was incredible ... and a solid repudiation of the two Clintons. Fifty five percent of the vote for Obama in a three-way race? Almost a veto-proof majority! Obama received a vote total more than twice that of Clinton and more than three times that of Edwards -- in a southern state. Amazing! Obama received nearly 25% of the white vote against two white candidates -- one a native son of South Carolina. Outstanding! Obama was supported by more voters in this primary election than voted for all candidates combined in South Carolina's 2004 Democratic primary. Majestic! Clinton's narrow victories over Obama in New Hampshire and Nevada were exciting, netting Obama as many convention delegates as Clinton. On the other hand, Obama's victories in Iowa and South Carolina have been solid and diverse statements of support.

Yes, as Senator Obama so forcefully and eloquently stated in his victory speech Saturday night, this election has come down to one conflict: past versus future.
And Senator Clinton, as capable as she is and potentially wonderful to some, clearly represents the past. It's time indeed for change we can believe in, and Barack Obama is the true leader in this regard. We can take our time, bloody our Democratic knuckles, kick each other in the groin, and end up limping to the General Election in November. Or we can embrace the opportunity to ride a wave like none before and truly change the world.

In my original blog on this subject, I highlighted the evil known as "groupthink." The Giuliani administration here in New York served as a colorful example thereof. (Fortunately, it now looks like we won't have to worry about the anti-American tendencies of Rudy in the White House.) One other example of "groupthink" in that piece, however, was the vote to authorize the Iraq War. In that instance, Democrats were beaten down as much by their own cowardice and calculations as by Republican pressure. America was not well served by President Bush or by the Democrats who played cautious politics rather than exercise real leadership. Unfortunately, Senator Clinton was one of those Senators -- as was then-Senator John Edwards.

The latest example of groupthink that comes to mind was the myth of "inevitability" accompanying Senator Clinton's candidacy for President of the United States.
The media is one of many culprits, of course. It's how they survive. But leadership can -- and must -- break through the wall. Senator Obama did not have to run; it would have been easier to wait. But it made no sense to wait. Barack Obama is a leader. He hears the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. With every speech he makes it clear "why we can't wait." He understands that polls are snapshots and that the subject of the picture can change. Obama understands the times we live in, the America we yearn for ... and the need to break through the wall of what is "realistic." And now how thin that wall has proven to be!

Yes, I do not agree with the Obama campaign on every issue -- including his health care plan. Yes, Obama is not perfect or squeaky clean. Yes, I hate to see the Clinton and Obama campaigns rolling around in the mud ... it does neither of them any good nor does it help Democrats overall. (One friend of mine said, "Hillary found her voice ... and it was Bill!" Ouch! ) But I can get past this -- we can get past this -- because there is a different feeling out there -- a good and powerful feeling -- and Barack Obama, the person and the movement, has created it.

Some progressive leaders like my father, retired Congressman Major Owens, had endorsed Senator Obama before the historic Iowa victory. Their support was based upon hope and prayers. In the aftermath of South Carolina, the result of hard work and faith, even more support is pouring in for this special Presidential candidate.

The former Caroline Kennedy and her Senator uncle are the first of many to come aboard before February 5. Yesterday, Caroline wrote the following: "Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible. We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn't that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country - just as we did in 1960."

Today, Senator Ted Kennedy summarized the attributes of a future President: "He is tough-minded, but he also has an uncommon capacity to appeal to 'the better angels of our nature'." And, in politics, we really need that sometimes.

If I may borrow some words from today's New York Times, a few years ago Senator Robert Kennedy's widow, Ethel, compared her late husband's quest for social justice to Senator Obama's. "He has the passion in his heart. He's not selling you. It's just him."

The Kennedys get it.
So does respected Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Governors and Senators from red states, and many others. Yes, Obama is unique.

And now writer extraordinaire Toni Morrison, who dubbed Bill Clinton "America's first Black president," has endorsed Senator Obama's candidacy. "In addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don't see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which, coupled with brilliance, equals wisdom."

The reality of what Barack Obama represents for this nation is seeping into the consciousness of the Democratic Party and others as well ... and the people will be speaking loud and clear on Tuesday, February 5.

So don't fear the tidal wave of change in America; ride it.
Let us sweep away the eroding but stubborn barriers of racial, ethnic and gender divisions as well as the visionless yet powerful inside players. This is how we remove Bush and Cheney and all residuals thereof.

Let us harness the hopeful energy of our younger generations -- and our own faith in generations to come. This is how we check corporate power, tackle global warming and our global economic challenges.

Let us rebuild America's true and unfulfilled status as the strong, respectful and compassionate role model for other nations. This is how we pursue peace.

And let us acknowledge conflicting perspectives on issues yet stand solid on the common ground. This is how we get real results in Washington that benefit all of the people.

Let us vote for Barack Obama on Tuesday, February 5.
Every vote in every state will be critical in determining the final count of convention delegates.

I am on the ballot in Brooklyn's 11th Congressional District as a delegate for Obama in Super-Duper Tuesday's Democratic Primary election.
I am actually an "alternate" candidate; I only get to go to Denver if an elected delegate cannot attend. That's OK; it's still an honor to lend myself to the cause and hundreds of others feel the same way. If you're in the 11th District, vote first for Obama and then please vote for me and my Obama slate colleagues.

Wherever you are in this nation, if you have not already registered with BarackObama.com, then do so today. If you live here in Brooklyn, volunteer today! Call either 718-604-9720 or 718-778-7978. Elsewhere in New York City, call 212-732-2008.

To download helpful Obama visual "stuff", click here.

Yes, we can! Si, se puede!

Yes, we will! Si, lo haremos!

Thank you!