Forty-six million Americans do not have the health insurance necessary to access America’s health care system. More than 3,600 Americans have now died in a war that should never have been waged and has provided Al Qaeda with a ripe recruiting ground for terrorists. Twelve million children in America are living in poverty. And as multinational corporations receive tax breaks while reporting windfall profits, middle-class Americans are losing jobs because these same corporations are outsourcing to India and China.

Politicians in Washington, pressured by powerful special-interest and lobbying groups to help a small number of corporations rather than the majority of Americans, drafted the policies that created such dire conditions. It is time for a fundamental change in the way Washington does politics. As Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) demonstrated in the CNN/YouTube presidential debate on July 23rd, he is the most qualified candidate to convert that need for change into sound and sincere policies.

Whatever the issue, from healthcare to education, Obama was the only candidate in the debate to repeatedly point out the role of special interest groups and lobbyists in crafting the destructive policies that are leading America down a disastrous path. He emphasized the fact that when special interest groups buy every seat at the negotiating table there is no room left for the voices and concerns of ordinary Americans.

Obama made it clear during the debate that, when confronted with a choice between siding with special interests and powerful corporations or hardworking Americans, he will always choose the latter. For this very reason he has refused to take any money from lobbyists and has relied instead on a grassroots movement composed of Americans from all walks of life to run the kind of campaign capable of changing politics in this country.

On foreign policy, Obama has demonstrated his ability to make sound decisions. He is the only major presidential candidate who opposed the war in Iraq from the start because he foresaw the difficulties that have since claimed so many lives. He realized that getting out of such a volatile region would not be nearly as easy as going in. Obama has introduced legislation in Congress that would pull U.S. troops out of Iraq by March 2008. Additionally, he wants to once again engage in constructive dialogue with the rest of the world to regain America’s moral authority after eight years of senseless policies that have marginalized even our oldest allies.

In his decade-long political career, Obama has already demonstrated his ability to unite people through hope instead of dividing them through fear. As a community organizer in the southside of Chicago, he united a neighborhood to confront the devastation brought on by the closing of steel mills. As an Illinois state senator, he helped pass tough ethics legislation to make sure special interests could not buy the votes of elected officials. He is now leading the fight to do the same in Congress.

On every occasion and at every opportunity Obama has shown his capacity to change politics and unite people through hope. He has shown his capacity to battle the special interests and create policies that help ordinary Americans, not powerful corporations, and to be an American leader, not just a Democratic one. That is why, as leader of the free world, Obama will bring the nation and the world together after eight years of division.

Fahad Faruqi is an LSA junior and the communications coordinator for Students for Barack Obama in the state of Michigan.

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