There is no right choice between the Empire and the Stormcloaks, and I think that was deliberate on Bethesda's part. The Empire is an empire. That alone should be anathema to those of us with modern sensibilities. But they aren't racists. They're very metropolitan, and don't seem to make any legal distinctions between the races (even if in practice there's some cultural racism lingering in the Empire). They have presided over an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity, enabled free trade, safety, and kept Akaviri invasions at bay numerous times, and the Dragonborn emperors kept the forces of Oblivion out of Nirn for a very long time. It was an Imperial force that stopped the Oblivion crisis. The Empire has, by and large, been a good thing for Tamriel. And they are certainly the best hope Tamriel has for stemming the total dominance of Nirn's version of National Socialists - the Thalmor. But then the Aldmeri Dominion happened, and the Great War proved that when it is in trouble, the Empire will happily sacrifice its provinces and their rights in exchange for the security of Cyrodiil. They may be complying with the Thalmor's demands as a feint to build up their strength once again, but that didn't help the people of Hammerfell, and it hasn't helped people who worship Talos. But despite all that, as soon as the next war comes around, you can guarantee that the Empire will be demanding support from Skyrim and its people, should they remain a province! The Stormcloaks are a reaction to that. They ostensibly want Skyrim to be self-governed, so that distant Cyrodiilic interests can't trample all over their rights and traditions. I'm sure that to Americans in particular, this must ring true, and that might well have been the point (Bethesda being an American studio, after all). And there is something to be said for self-governance, even in the bizarre political climate of a place like Skyrim. Disparate cultures are rarely benefited by centralised leadership. Look at the Soviet Union. Heck, look at the European Union. The Stormcloaks want religious freedom, and in a world where gods are real and active, religious freedom seems like an even more important thing to fight for than it is here. They want the Thalmor to stop arresting, torturing, and killing innocent Skyrim citizens. Seems reasonable to me. And most of them don't hate the Empire, they just hate the Thalmor. If the Thalmor weren't wandering around Skyrim arresting people, I doubt Ulfric's rebellion would have gotten off the ground (and don't they know it). But they are colossal racists, to the point where I'm not sure that an independent Skyrim would benefit if they were in charge, and they're led by a self-serving narcissist who's firmly in the pocket of the Thalmor. Ulfric may well believe that Skyrim would be better off out of the Empire, but that's not why he's leading the rebellion, and I doubt it actually would be if he was leading it. And a crumbling Empire means a dominant Dominion, who are the other racists. Thalmor dominance categorically wouldn't be a benefit to Skyrim at all. Look at the way Ondolemar talks about Skyrim and the Nords. His type of thinking isn't unique in the Aldmeri Dominion. Hammerfell survived because they were fighting a weakened, war-weary Dominion; so weakened, in fact, that it is commonly accepted that the Empire could probably have foregone signing the White-Gold Concordat and pushed back into the Summerset Isles, defeating them completely. They're not weakened any more. Like the Empire, they've been building up their strength, ready for round two. Skyrim wouldn't stand a chance on their own. They can't even kick the Empire out without a Dragonborn helper! Heck, they'd nearly lost at the start of the game! So with all this considered, the 'right' choice is whatever your character thinks is the 'right' choice, really. You can't even base the choice on what race your character is - the game itself keeps throwing up curveballs in that regard. Imperials and Altmer who support the Stormcloaks, Bosmer who hate the Thalmor, Nords who are of course conflicted, Redguards who support the Empire... there's no lore reason for any race to be particularly keen on either side. So it has to be a personal choice on the part of your character, with their own motivations and loyalties tied into it. I've just started playing an Imperial woman who only resigned from 10 years' of Imperial Legion service and became a mercenary because a fellow soldier she was close with died on duty. She visited Skyrim to pay her respects to his grave in Falkreath before getting reluctantly dragged back into Imperial service, because she is still loyal to the Empire and didn't want to see it fall apart. I've also played a Nord thief who supported the Stormcloaks because she thought that law enforcement in Skyrim would take a turn for the worse if the Empire was kicked out!