Friday, September 05, 2008

Michelle Obama: Let’s Summon Up The Courage To Vote For The World As It Should Be...

Date: Sunday, August 24, 2008
By: Michelle Obama, Special to

When I was young, my father volunteered as a precinct captain for the Democratic Party in our neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. Some of my earliest memories are of tagging along as he went from door to door. He helped people register to vote. If our neighbors needed absentee ballots, he arranged them. And he made sure people got to the voting booth on Election Day.

My father loved educating folks about their rights, and he believed deeply in the responsibilities that come with being participants in our rich and varied society. He never missed an opportunity to vote. He viewed it as his obligation as a citizen—and a moral obligation to those of his generation who marched and fought and sometimes died for the right.

I’m very grateful to my father for teaching me the value of voting. As a parent, I try to instill that value in my daughters. I vote because I care about my country and my community; because I want to have a voice in my government; and because I believe that our country has a better chance of solving the problems we face if we all speak up and get involved.

I also vote because of something my husband once said. About 20 years ago, when we were first getting to know one another, Barack took me to a community meeting in a neighborhood in Chicago -- a place where people were working hard to generate economic opportunities after local steel plants shut down and jobs dried up. That day, Barack gave a talk about his experiences as a community organizer. He spoke about the gap between the world as it is and the world as it should be. He said that ordinary people can narrow that gap, if they work together for change.

I fell in love with that idea. It conveys a simple but powerful truth—one that is illustrated every Election Day, when people line up to cast their ballots. When we vote, we don’t just choose a candidate. We choose to begin building the world as it should be.

For the girl I met in South Carolina -- who told me that because of Barack’s candidacy, she now dreams of being president one day -- it’s a world where all children can pursue their dreams, no matter their gender or the color of their skin. For the woman I met in Kansas City, it’s a world where no parent feels trapped by the rising cost of gas and food and health care -- and every mother can give her children a healthy, happy life. For the military wife I met at Fort Bragg, it’s a world where returning soldiers never worry about mental health care or living on welfare -- and deployments are shorter, so fathers and mothers who serve our country can have as much time as possible with their children.

When we vote this November, we’ll be casting our ballots for that world.

But if you don’t vote -- and today, more than 30 percent of African Americans don’t -- you cast a ballot for the status quo. By not voting, you vote to let others decide your future for you.

I’ve heard people say, “My vote doesn’t matter,” “My vote won’t count,” or, “I’m just one person. What possible difference can I make?” But this year, all our votes matter more than ever.

This is a historic election -- and not just because my husband, Barack Obama, is at the top of the Democratic ticket. It’s historic because of what’s at stake for our shared future and our children’s future. There are so many urgent problems that must be addressed—from responsibly ending the war in Iraq, to strengthening our economy and restoring the middle class, to making affordable healthcare available to all Americans and giving every child a world-class education.

As I’ve traveled around the country, I’ve seen an outpouring of new voters answering the call for change. People are getting involved in politics like never before. They’re talking to their neighbors, getting informed, and challenging one another to think differently about the world and our shared place in it.

If you are satisfied with the world as it is, your choice this fall is easy. But if you believe, as I do, that we can solve our problems -- that, together, we can shape our future again -- join me in voting on November 4.

I’ll be voting for my daughters’ future and my father’s memory. I’ll be voting for Dr. King and the thousands of regular folks who fought to get me the right to vote. And I’ll be voting for the generations of Americans that will someday look back at this time, grateful that we summoned the courage to begin building the world as it should be.

See Also...

If Fox News Gave Cindy McCain The Michelle Obama Treatment…Thoughts Of An Outraged Negro…

Introducing Michelle Obama...America's Next First Lady...

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