Dearest Family & Friends,
As most of you know me quite well, you know that my thoughts are endless and my feelings run deep. During my time abroad, I’ve had a lot of time to think and reflect on a great many things, and I would like to share some of those thoughts with you now. I’d like to think I’ve built up enough rapport with you so that my words hold more meaning than just mindless babble, and I hope that it is worth your time to read my thoughts and feelings. It would mean a great deal to me if you did.
I’ve been particularly astounded by the world’s interest in the American elections. One British news columnist said that the American elections were like “the World Cup of politics” and that the world should take interest because ultimately, the person elected will have a profound impact not only on America, but the rest of the world as well. I’ve been to many different countries, I’ve spoken with strangers about this monumental time in American politics, and I’ve seen the front pages of every foreign newspaper riddled with coverage of this election. The world is taking interest in America, and it seems that, for the first time in a long time, America is taking interest in America. I only want to encourage that trend to continue and say how I feel and what I think. This message will not preach to a democratic agenda nor that of the republicans, I’m not here to try and sway you either left or right. Because we each hold our own opinions, I may offend some of you, though that is not my intent. To me, this message is about the future of America, and doing what is right for her.
We Lucky Few
“So like, voting’s really big in America isn’t it?” asked one of my English housemates this last year. “Because for [the British], we’re able to vote but it doesn’t really mean that much to us. It seems like voting in America is really important; like your vote actually matters.”
We have a privilege in the United States that is not universal; it is the privilege of voting. Voting is a fundamental American right and we are guaranteed this gift when we come of age. The need to vote has been stressed to me by my family, friends, my teachers, and colleagues. This necessity to participate in our system has been set alight within me and now it burns steady and bright. However, many do not share this need to vote and simply do not take the time to participate in our society.
We have seen in recent years that the races for the presidency can be close; so close in fact that extreme measures were taken to insure that America didn’t go too long without leadership. To my generation, I have to stress that in our relatively short lifespan, we have seen monumentally close elections. I believe those events should strengthen our belief in the knowledge that our vote does matter. Perhaps one vote will not be the deciding factor, but even fifty votes can make all the difference. So please, my friends and family, whomever you decide to vote for, please take the time to cast your ballot. Send in for an absentee ballot and then you can take your time to consider everything in the comfort of your home. Or, come Election Day, grab a hot drink and go down to the polling booths. However you decide to do it, please cast your vote in the upcoming election.
I often stroll past newsstands during my wanderings through Europe, and I’m always struck by a large smile. It is due partly to the fact that I love to see that the world is interested in our future; newspapers are in constant coverage of our political goings-on. It feels like the world cares about America and it gives me hope that we can rekindle our foreign relationships and rebuild our once good name. But that smile also comes from the diverse coverage given to the elections and the candidates.
The media for the candidates will range for praise to condemnation, the good and the bad of each contender. Many papers will show Hillary all smiles after her win in Nevada, or her tears in that fateful coffee shop. Other papers will show the aged John McCain with Starbucks in hand, his face wrinkled by a jolly smile. Some will show Rudy Giuliani, but I have to say those are few and far between. However, it seems that the foreign media grants young senator Obama the most coverage; singing his praises, speaking of the possibilities he may have for our country, but also his shortcomings and pitfalls. Whoever they’re focused on, it makes me happy to know that we have such a wide range of potential candidates with such a broad range of abilities and skills. What this says to me is that we’ve fallen on hard times, but our diverse population has responded to crisis by offering up a variety of its best potentials. This diversity and passion amongst the contenders has created a fierce competition which will ultimately produce the president most fit for the oval office and for our country.
I had an interesting experience in one of my philosophy courses. My professor asked me to explain the “American Dream”. I stood up in front of the class and I told them about how anything was possible in the United States; that a man could bring himself from poverty to prosperity by sheer determination and hard work; That there is no dream which is unattainable, be that running the country or having a simple life and raising a family; And most importantly, that one man can make a difference, be that for better or for worse.
We have but to look into our past to see how one man can make a difference; it’s apparent with our Presidents’ triumphs and failures. However, the Presidential position does not have to be an isolated position for its barer, rather, I believe it can be a working relationship with the nation. It’s a fact that the president is put on a pedestal, raised into the global spotlight, but he should never feel alone, for the foundation on which he stands is made from the support of the American people. When that support is waning, he feels his pedestal teetering, but when that support is strong, we give him the strength and confidence to lead.
As of late, our government seems inept when dealing with the dilemmas of our age; it seems stagnant, unable to find solutions, disconnected from the American people, as well as the rest of the world. This has created disinterest amongst our citizens and we’ve seen a shrinking away of citizens from politics. There are feelings of insignificance and hopelessness that hang over our heads. Yet, something seems to be growing just beneath the surface and it is aching to emerge. That something is hope; hope for something different, hope for something better. In the sixties “there was a vague and spreading desire for national renewal”[i], but now our country seems to be screaming for it; the people want out of the muddy hole that’s been dug and back onto a solid path. Some seem reluctant to hop on the hope wagon, doubting the strength of the term. They say that while it sounds good, hoping for something better will not make it happen. I believe that hope is about as powerful as anything.
It is with hope that we dream for a better future, it is with hope that we allow ourselves to trust our fellow man, it is with hope that we believe in a higher power, it is hope that fuels our desire to change and keeps us going through the hardest of times. I’m filled with hope for the future of our nation, especially if we can all come together and get behind this inspirational man from Illinois. I’ve said that one man can make a difference, and with the support of the country, I believe Barack Obama can start to lead us back onto a better path.
The Up and Comer from Illinois
Barack Obama has filled me with passions that I have not felt in ages and he is inspiring not only America, but the world as well. There are many good candidates on both sides of the spectrum, but Obama is the one that prods the fire inside me and helps it grow brighter. He renews in me firstly, my pride in the country. I’ve always been proud of where I’m from though in recent years, I’ve had to hang my head at some of our countries decisions. However, with such great potential leadership vying for the presidency, I can once more hold my head up high; certainly not because of our recent past, but because of the possibility for betterment in America’s future. We may not be at our best right now, but there is always the possibility for improvement in the future. That is what I have to be proud about; our country wants to improve itself. It’s just a matter of finding the right man for the job. Obama recognizes this desire for change and embraces it whole heartedly.
Not only is he a champion for change and hope, but Barack Obama had given a new generation a reason to believe in our country again. Sadly, politics does not rate highly on our generation’s list of top interests. Obama has, in the younger generation, in my generation, reinvigorated that desire to participate in our country. He has reissued the famous Kennedy call to serve the country and support her in her time of need. His messages of hope, change, hard work, and giving back to our Nation are working; the youth of the nation are standing up proudly to participate side by side with their seniors to make the world a better place.
I’ll continue to keep up with the elections over here through the foreign media, I’ll continue to thoroughly consider the candidates and their issues, but right now my allegiance has been given to Mr. Obama because of his dreams for the future, his charisma, and his ability to get a nation to come together with a dream of change. We no doubt have more rough times ahead of us, but I would much rather be led down that road by a lead with a smile, energy, and determination, than any other way.
[i] Goodwin, Richard. “Remembering America” 1988.