To begin with, I will vote for the eventual Democratic nominee over whoever the Republicans choose. While I'm constantly disappointed by the Democrats, I'm appalled by the Republicans. Between the mess the Republicans have created and the potential of several Supreme Court nominations in the next term (and no realistic third option), the Democrats get my support by default.
We're now down to two options. Neither were among my early choices, but for different reasons. As a liberal progessive, but also a policy wonk, I doubt I'll ever get my ideal choice. Last nights debate simply reinforced my views.
Hillary Clinton is brilliant, and has a strong policy background. She can articulate a position as well as anyone in politics today. Coventional wisdom is that she's "devisive", but the reality is that it's the right-wing that is the source of the devision. Right wing politics is based on attacking, by any means possible, anyone who doesn't march in lockstep with their agenda. That said, I remember the Clinton 90's. I was not a fan of Bill Clinton during his presidency (although shrub makes him look great in retrospect), which was a bland, mediocre, uninspiring era of moderately good government. Clinton's administration was competent, but didn't attempt or achieve any major changes for America. The failed healthcare reform plan was followed by...nothing. No energy, environmental, or economic improvements. A foreign policy of "status quo" that did very little to improve America's standing in the world. Would a Hillary administration be the same as a Bill administration? No. The times have changed. But I doubt it would be much better.
Barack Obama has a great inspirational image, and is among the best public speakers in my lifetime. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of policy substance (although last night's debate was an improvement). After you get past the rhetoric, the positions are moderate and bland. Then there is the question of experience, of which Obama has little (although I'm not sure that anyone is ready for what's coming next).
The next president is going to inherit one hell of a mess, both nationally and internationally. I'm not sure that any of the candidates who were in the running were capable of addressing all the issues facing the country. There are no super heroes left.
But I'm stuck with a choice between the safety of the past or the hope for the future. Despite my experience, I'm choosing hope.
I'm voting for Barack Obama today (I vote early because I'll be running a polling place on election day).
Added: BTW, the state ballot has 24 Democratic candidates for president, including "Sandy Whitehouse" and "Loti Gest" and "Chuck See". Where were they during the debates?