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Open Forum: Barack Obama a transformational, progressive figure

For me, and for many of the women at Mills, our choice in the upcoming Democratic primary election seems deceptively simple. How can any committed, lifelong feminist not support our country’s first serious female presidential contender? Isn’t it our duty?

Certainly, this is a historic moment in our country’s history, a moment when progressive ideas are finding new support all across the country, a moment when we can put a firm end to the disastrous policies of the past eight years, and a moment when millions of Americans can, for the first time, look at the top competitors for the presidency and see a group of people who better reflect and represent the country we live in than any before.

What you and I must ask ourselves as intelligent progressive voters is this: Do we want a president who will symbolize centuries of work towards equality and freedom? Or do we want a president who will not only be a symbol, but will be able to act towards progress on the issues that we care about?

For this reason I support Barack Obama as the next president of the United States.

In my lifetime, I have never witnessed a progressive agenda enacted at the national level. Over the past twenty years, liberals in this country have been reduced to holding dear to what past generations have given us, rather than dreaming about what we can achieve. Barack Obama is the only candidate who can inspire like-minded Americans from all parts of society to come together and create the kind of coalition that will truly transform our society. Senator Obama is the only candidate for president who offers us a chance at creating a real progressive governing majority, who can work together with moderates to enact sweeping, transformative change. Change like when President Wilson pushed for universal suffrage, and President Johnson fought for civil rights; Barack Obama offers a once-in-a-generation chance to makes these kinds of things happen in our time.

Obama’s record in fighting for progressive causes is unimpeachable, both in the Senate and in the Illinois legislature. He has always been a vocal and consistent opponent of the Iraq war. He cosponsored legislation to extend hate crime coverage to crimes targeting sexual and gender orientation, and he supports a total repeal of 1996’s discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. Planned Parenthood gives Obama a 100 percent pro-choice voting record. He has worked in the Senate for congressional ethics reform and important efforts towards increasing government transparency.
Most importantly, Barack Obama is the kind of person who can fulfill the most important duty of the presidency, by inspiring an entire country to reach for a greater, more utopian state of existence.

Because of his impressive skills as a negotiator and a communicator, and because he is not bound to the vicious and divisive politics of the past twenty years, Senator Obama has the best chance of any of the Democratic candidates to bring about the great dreams of the progressive movement: universal health care, greatly reduced carbon emissions, and an end to senseless militarist foreign policy.

Barack Obama will be the kind of president who shifts the nation’s path by inspiring an entire generation to reach for more, to aspire to greater things, to try for a positive direction in the march of history. So, returning to my original question, allowing my gender to dictate my vote is not my duty as a feminist, as a woman, or as a human being. Rather, it is my duty to vote for the candidate who can do the most good for women in the U.S. and abroad, by pushing this country to become the place that we know in our hearts it can be.

I support Barack Obama because he alone among the candidates has the potential to transform this country into a better place for everyone, and on Feb. 5, I encourage you to do the same.