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Obama’s message more than words

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, March 13, 2008

Throughout this year’s presidential primary, Barack Obama has traveled around the country, consistently filling stadiums and auditoriums with people who want to hear his message. Yet Obama’s message has drawn attacks from the other candidates, who characterize his “words” as more sound byte than substance. Though, I confess at the outset, I am a supporter of Barack Obama because I believe he possesses the intelligence, judgment and tact to lead our country, this letter is honestly not a call for reader’s votes. It is a call to our generation – be you a McCain, Clinton or Nader supporter – to vote for who you wish, but to not tear down Obama’s message of hope in the process.

Obama’s message of hope doesn’t merely call us to “Rock the Vote.” No, that’s already been done. Obama is calling us to do more. Indeed, casting our votes and canvassing for our candidates are the grassroots of his message of hope for our democracy, but such activities can only happen once every two or four years. His message to us is that democracy doesn’t take a break in between elections, so why should we. We must find ways to participate in our country, be it by volunteering, working for the government or, yes, maybe even running the government.

I recently received a phone call from a close college friend who informed me that he had decided to run for a State House of Representatives seat in Missouri, and it dawned on me just then, that is how big Obama’s message of hope can inspire us to think. I know there are great stories out there of people in our generation pursuing their public service ambitions, but my fear is that there are far too many in dorm rooms at universities, or in cubicles (offices if we’re lucky) at first-jobs, that have already dismissed the possibility of a future public service career – not because of a lack of desire to serve the country, but because of a lack of inspiration from the current state of our politics.

It takes a special kind of person to run for public office of any sort, no doubt, but honestly, I hope it doesn’t require us to be that special. I hope a solid education, hard worth ethic, love of this country and the desire to serve others is enough to allow a person to make a run at it. Obama’s “words” inspire us to think that is enough. More than mere sound bytes and feel-good rhetoric, Obama’s words and his candidacy are a call to us to engage in our democracy today, and not put it off for a future generation. We must each find our own way of participating in our democracy, be it running for the White House, or writing one’s first ever letter. Maybe my city council or mayoral campaign isn’t that far off.

Jared Wells

law student

off campus

March 11