To call any presidential election “historic” may be a bit redundant. The very nature of a presidential election, the event in which Americans come together to voice their hope for the direction the country will take, is to change history. Yet in all of the elections that our nation has seen, I believe none to have been as important as today’s. Today, we must raise our voices in support for the candidate who has championed equality, economic recovery and progressive ideals. We must re-elect President Barack Obama.

Obama’s first term in office took place under inauspicious circumstances. With an ineffective Congress whose primary objective seemed to be preventing the President from bringing his vision of America to fruition simply out of partisanship, it has been difficult for Obama to enact the broad changes he saw for the nation.

Obama’s accomplishments, however, have still been impressive. The Affordable Care Act created the broadest health care reform the nation has seen in decades. Millions of formerly uninsured Americans, including those with pre-existing health conditions, now have greater access to health care. College students now have the ability to stay on their parents’s health care plan until they turn 26. Through the ACA, Obama showed his understanding of health care as a basic necessity.

In addition to promoting a healthier America, Obama and the Democratic Party have fought hard for equal treatment of all Americans. Democrats have advocated for the protection of women’s reproductive freedoms, while the opposition has focused on enacting omnibus legislation to restrict them. Obama’s recognition of the benefits of birth control as preventative medicine has allowed women access to birth control at no cost. In May, Obama became the first president to declare his support for same-sex marriage. The Democratic Party followed this declaration by becoming the first major political party to add support for marriage equality — in the form of the Respect for Marriage Act — to the official party platform. Obama’s economic policies are the only viable options for continued economic recovery.

While Obama is the advocate for the progressive ideals that we need in order to move America forward, he cannot enact change alone. It’s important that we elect Democratic representatives — both in Washington, D.C. and Lansing — who support the President’s legislative agenda. As we have seen with the split Congress of the past two years, America can’t move forward when our leaders are more preoccupied with party divisions than progress. We need to re-elect Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D–Mich.) and Rep. John Dingell (D–Mich.), elect progressive candidates to our state and federal legislatures, and bring new voices to the Michigan Supreme Court through the election of Shelia Johnson, Connie Kelley and Bridget Mary McCormack, a Michigan Law School professor.

We find ourselves at what is a historic presidential election. The choice we face as students of the University of Michigan and as Americans could not be more important. We must think critically about the direction we want to move in for the next four years. Obama has earned another term in office to continue economic recovery and the pursuit of equality.

This is 2012, and it’s going to be a critical year in American history.

This was written on behalf of the University’s chapter of College Democrats by Jacob Light.

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