I have been a Republican most of my life, but after watching the Bush administration commit itself to a failed path over the last eight years, I do not believe America can take four more years of the same. From our nation’s security, to our energy policy, to the management of our nation’s fiscal matters, our next president will face big challenges and must have the vision and commitment to find meaningful solutions. For this reason I believe Barack Obama and Joe Biden are the best choice to lead our country.

The politics of division have diverted us from the critical issues affecting Mainers and taken America in the wrong direction. Over the past eight years, nearly 6 million more people joined the ranks of the uninsured, our national debt increased by more than $3 trillion, and the cost of everyday living has sky-rocketed. The amount of money we are spending on foreign oil is the largest transfer of wealth in history. We cannot continue down this path, as John McCain would do. We need real change on issues and on the way things are done in Washington.

The price of gas and home heating oil is putting a terrible strain on many Maine families. What we need is a new policy that delivers meaningful relief. Time and again John McCain has chosen Big Oil over ordinary Americans. His campaign received over $2 million from corporations like ExxonMobil, who know that if McCain is president he will make good on his promise to give $4 billion in new tax cuts for the oil companies. We cannot afford to give more handouts to Big Oil at the expense of Americans struggling to heat their homes and fuel their cars.

Barack Obama has put forward detailed solutions to our energy crisis that will benefit working Mainers. He offers immediate relief through a $1,000 emergency energy rebate, and will release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to bring prices down today. He’ll also start planning now for a secure energy future. Obama will invest $150 billion over 10 years in clean, efficient and affordable energy production here at home, reducing our dependence on foreign oil. That’s the kind of change we will need to get through the winter here in Maine.

Our economy is in trouble, and Barack Obama is the leader who will offer relief to middle-class families. John McCain thinks our economy is “fundamentally strong.” The thousands of Americans who are without jobs or struggling to pay for tuition or health care or their mortgages would disagree, and so do I. Sen. Obama not only recognizes that we need a change on our economy, he is a fiscally responsible leader who will lower taxes for the middle class while getting America’s fiscal house back in order.

The issues we face are neither Republican nor Democratic; they are issues that affect all of us and the future of our country. We need to think about the world we are leaving to our children. America should again lead the fight on issues that cross borders but impact everyday people at home, like global warming.

Global warming is a real problem that needs to be addressed; it is time for the federal government to show the kind of leadership that the Bush administration has left to states like Maine and California. Obama’s energy plan will reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. He will be a leader on energy-economy issues and will make a serious commitment to working with leaders around the globe to address this shared challenge with a real solution. McCain has not made the same commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

Some may remember that I ran for governor as an independent in 1986. That was during another time when I thought the Republican Party had turned its back on the basic Republican principals of environmental protection, women’s issues and fiscal responsibility — remember voodoo economics?

That time is here again. We need real change, and to do that we need a new kind of politics. There was a time when our leaders were judged by their ability to build consensus and reach across the aisle to find solutions and move America forward. We must elect a president who will rise above partisan politics and focus America on the critical challenges at hand.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden will help us take our country back and live up to our ideals once again.

Sherry Huber is co-chair of Maine Republicans for Obama. She served in the Maine House of Representatives and twice ran for governor.