Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The politics of hope in the 2008 election

<ves are falling, though the temperature has not followed suit, Democratic debates are starting to yield differences among candidates, and the DFL keeps sending me reminders that it is “Just One Day Left to One-Year Out.” That is, that this Saturday is 365 days from Election Day. But a lot will happen between now and next November 3rd.

And most of it is going to happen in the next three months. Although we’re still a year out from selecting between two or maybe three candidates, Iowans make their decisions in two months. The Democratic field has truly exceptional candidates with great records on every issue from social security to ending the war in Iraq. So how should one go about choosing among them? Presidential elections aren’t about decisions made in the past; they’re about finding a leader for the future.

Now is a good time in the process to pause and ask, “What do you look for in a leader?” For me, it’s an honest receptiveness to novel ideas and a commitment to bringing people together. A leader is someone who has experience building a better future in his or her community. When I think about leadership, my mind leaps to Barack Obama. Senator Obama is committed to bringing America together again, as he has done his entire career, as a community organizer, professor, state senator, and U.S. Senator. In Illinois, Senator Obama brought together civil rights advocates and police officers to reform the state’s death penalty system. Originally, people said it couldn’t be done, but Barack proved them wrong; the bill passed the State Senate unanimously. He has brought together Democrats and Republicans to stop the genocide in Darfur.

Leadership is about more than specific policy stances; those issues will get resolved within the first year in office with a cooperative Congress. What I’m much more interested in is the candidates’ vision of government. Eight years of concerted effort dismantling rights, regulations, and the basic functions of government have landed us in dire straights. In Obama’s words from Tuesday’s debate, “ What we have to do is invite the American people back to participate in their government again. Part of what we need to do is rebuild trust in our government again.”

The politics of hope makes that possible. An Obama administration will listen to Americans. When we see our values reflected in government action, it gives us hope. It reminds us of our political power, and asks us to reinvest in America. Hope is necessary for a better tomorrow. Whether it’s Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream, the American Dream, or the dream of a living wage, every dream is a product of hope.

That’s the ‘why’ of Barack Obama’s campaign. Here’s the ‘how:’

Grassroots involvement and student activism will make or break Barack’s candidacy. He has staked his vision for America on having enough dedicated Americans who believe that we can elevate politics. We have a unique opportunity to politics and our nation. Hope propels us onward. Barack’s campaign places a premium on face-to-face voter contact because that’s the single most important predictor of whether someone actually gets to the polls and votes for what they believe in.

The Obama campaign relies on activists, vocal supporters, and 352,000 individual donors at last count. Please, come out and change America with us. Tomorrow, Carleton Students for Barack Obama will be canvassing in Iowa alongside one of the most impressive organizations ever realized. The ease of use and power of a small commitment are incredible. Once you sign up on, you can volunteer from your home. When Carleton Students canvass in Mason City or in Northfield, those efforts are integrated with volunteers in districts all over the country.

It’s no secret that the campaign is counting on Obama supporters being the most involved, most fired up, and ready to go on Caucus day. Iowa hinges more on turnout than any other state. Less than 20% of the residents are expected to vote in the Democratic caucus, meaning that every extra caucus-goer that a campaign contacts and can get to their local caucus in January’s makes a huge difference.

After Iowa, Minnesota will be just as important for Sen. Obama. Minnesota shares its caucus night, February 5th, with 21 other states this year. Most election scenarios end on that day because of 2,182 delegates a candidate needs to clinch the nomination at the National Convention this summer, 2,056 will be pledged on or before the Fifth. The deadline is looming, and if you choose not to volunteer now, you may lose your opportunity to really have a voice in this process. We need you, Barack Obama needs you, and America needs you.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *