America is not as divided as the pundits would have us believe. Our perceived disagreement stems from a tendency to miss the forest for the trees. We get too bogged down in the minutiae of policy, and in the process we overlook the fact that regardless of ideology, we all yearn for a stronger and safer country that aspires to fulfill its fundamental ideals.
At an hour when those ideals have been disregarded in the name of security from an amorphous enemy, America needs a leader who can inspire us to reclaim the American dream that at times appears out of reach. At first glance, this notion may appear vague, too lofty and idealistic. But at times of great peril, it has taken a leader with a bit of faith and imagination coupled with informed pragmatism to achieve that which seemed impossible. Our president must be well-equipped to fight the cynics who call our hopes false and to inspire us to embrace a promising future. That leader is Senator Barack Obama.
His opponents label him inexperienced, even naïve. But they seem to forget that we’re talking about a brilliant man who was raised in the U.S. and overseas, navigated the beleaguered streets of Chicago as a community organizer, graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and lead several reforms as a state legislator and United States Senator. They also neglect to mention that Obama has more elected experience than Senator Hillary Clinton, his rival for the Democratic nomination. But let’s not fool ourselves—no one is sufficiently prepared to walk into the oval office and become leader of the free world on day one. All we can ask is that he or she has demonstrated good judgment and a vision to grow with the responsibilities of the office.
Obama demonstrated this leadership and judgment when, during a bid for his Senate seat, he made the politically unpopular decision to publicly oppose the war in Iraq. He did so along with many experts who said that invading Iraq would lead to an occupation of indeterminate length, cost and consequences. And while others failed to ask the tough questions and took President Bush at his word, Obama made the right decision, suggesting that we focus on the threat of global terrorism. With this courageous stand, Obama displayed a kind of prescience that can only come from knowledge and experience.
One ought not to vote for Clinton solely based on the contention that she is better suited to keep our country secure. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Obama has a comprehensive grasp of the need to confront our enemies, build relationships with our allies and capitalize on a rapidly globalizing economy. Moreover, he offers a unique opportunity to change the face of America, and change how we’re perceived around the globe. Imagine how a nine-year-old, Madrasa-educated child would look at America if a biracial man named Barack Obama were elected president of a country only a few decades removed from legal segregation. Perhaps he’d have a different concept of the American dream than his friends and family. Maybe he’d become convinced, and rightly so, that America has indeed changed—that we are no longer the country that he was taught to fear and loathe.
Inspiration goes a long way, and creative imagination is necessary for progress. Let us transcend our differences and unite in the pursuit of a common purpose. Let us not begrudgingly accept what is, but work for what ought to be. Let us fight to make healthcare and education a right, ushering in a generation of healthy, informed Americans. Let us restore habeas corpus and preserve America’s fundamental principles of justice, liberty and equality. Let us fight for a clean energy future, cherishing God’s gift and saving the world for our future offspring. We must shed our inhibitions, our fears and cold conventionality, and bind together to heal our nation. This opportunity may not come again during our lifetimes. It is absolutely imperative that we elect Obama as President. I trust that we will.