The University of Michigan is one of the top universities in the country. Our student body is composed of the brightest minds from around the country and the world. We are the leaders of tomorrow with the power to change and shape our nation through our civic duty to vote. Next year there is a pivotal election that will influence the direction of our nation and determine the kind of world we future leaders will inherit. It is imperative that we elect a leader who shares the values and possesses the character to unite our country and build the foundation upon which we will confront future challenges. Barack Obama is the best person to take the reins of our polarized country and usher in vital change.

Unlike many other candidates, Obama has refused to take any money from lobbyists or political action committees. Instead, he has received more than 500,000 donations from a record 350,000 people. Many of these donations came in small amounts from young people interested in change.

In the past, politicians have either alienated or dismissed young voters, believing that young people are disillusioned or apathetic about politics. Obama has turned this notion on its head by engaging and relying on young people to be a force in his campaign. Young people are attracted to him because of his integrity and his commitment to change. Young people aren’t disillusioned with politics; they are disillusioned with Washington. Obama has both the leadership and character to fix Washington and rejuvenate students’ involvement in shaping our nation.

One of the most important actions needed to repair our government is to once again instill a respect for the Constitution within our federal institutions. Over the last seven years, the Constitution has been battered, manipulated and ignored. As a former Constitutional law professor, Obama knows better than most the value of this significant document. His mastery of the Constitution will assuage the fears many students currently have about possible infringements on their civil liberties. His knowledge and judgment will surely provide the defense that the Constitution so sorely needs after such a period of abuse.

The Constitution was written for our young nation, but now our country is becoming increasingly divided into red, blue and battleground states. Politicians may berate the other party to score points with voters, but in the real world people must work together to make decisions. Obama follows this principle, as evidenced by an exemplary record of bipartisan cooperation at both the state and national level.

When it was said that it couldn’t be done, he worked with both parties in the Illinois state Senate to pass important racial profiling, ethics and death penalty legislation. More recently, he has worked with conservative stalwart Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on the issues of lobbying reform and fiscal responsibility. As president, his ability to unite and work in a bipartisan fashion will embody the real-world leadership and sound judgment that we, as Michigan students, will employ in the future.

Obama showed the good judgment and sensibility to oppose the war in Iraq from the beginning, even when it was unpopular to do so. Like most Americans, Obama thinks the current surge has not yielded the promised diplomatic progress, and that we must responsibly leave Iraq. Obama proposes a phased withdrawal that would begin immediately and be completed by the end of next year. He also calls for a new constitutional convention to be convened in Iraq with the support of the United Nations. As students who consistently see the flag at half-mast on the Diag, we all understand the need for a plan that will end this war and bring our troops home.

This is our generation’s century, and the last seven years have been a poor start. As the future leaders of this country, we must begin fulfilling our duty now by electing Obama, a leader who will instill our values in our government and ensure that we inherit a better America. He represents the integrity, change and shared principles necessary to achieve this task.

Kyle Sutton is an LSA junior and the communications director for University chapter of Students for Obama.

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