For all the shortcomings of the campaign, both John McCain and Barack Obama offer hope of national redemption. Now America has to choose between them. The Economist does not have a vote, but if it did, it would cast it for Mr Obama.
The magazine announced its endorsement “wholeheartedly”, but acknowledged it viewed Mr Obama as “a gamble”. Given Mr Obama’s inexperience, the lack of clarity about some of his beliefs and the prospect of a stridently Democratic Congress, voting for him is a risk. But, the magazine argued in an editorial to be published in the November 1st issue of the magazine, it is a risk America should take, given the steep road ahead.
This cannot be another election where the choice is based merely on fear, argued The Economist. In terms of painting a brighter future for America and the world, Mr Obama has produced the more compelling and detailed portrait. He has campaigned with more style, intelligence and discipline than his opponent. Whether he can fulfil his immense potential remains to be seen. But Mr Obama deserves the presidency.
“Many people may say that a publication edited in London should not announce an endorsement in the US election,” said Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait. “But we are a journal of opinion that speaks out on everything else. The Economist’s circulation in the United States is nearly 700,000 copies, more than half of our worldwide total. All those American readers will now be pondering how to vote. It would be odd if on such an important issue we did not explain to them how we would think about our vote — if we had one.”
In 1980, The Economist endorsed Ronald Reagan. It offered no endorsement in 1984 or 1988. In 1992 it endorsed Bill Clinton, in 1996 Bob Dole, in 2000 George W. Bush, and in 2004 John Kerry.