Barack Obama's Letter to Vibe Magazine

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Letter to Vibe Magazine
by Barack Obama
Published in Vibe on 9 September 2008.
We are at a defining moment in our history. Our nation is at war. Our economy is in turmoil. More Americans are out of work, and more are working for less. More of you have cars you can’t afford to drive, credit card bills you can’t afford to pay, and tuition that’s beyond your reach.

And too many Americans have lost faith that their leaders can or will do anything about it. That’s why this election is the most important of our lifetime. We cannot wait any longer for universal health care, or an affordable college education, or good-paying jobs we can count on.

We cannot wait to fix our schools, rebuild our communities, or end this war in Iraq. We cannot wait to change the game in Washington.

I am running for President to take this country in a new direction. But I can’t do it alone. I need you. Whether it’s the first time, or the first time in a long time, I need you to register and vote on November 4th.

Now, 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?” And I understand this cynicism. As a young man attempting to find my own way in the world, I faced many of the same choices and challenges facing many of you today. I sometimes doubted that my thoughts and actions really mattered in the larger scheme of things.

But I made a choice. I chose to check in, to get involved, and to try and make a difference in people’s lives. It’s what led me to my work as a community organizer in Chicago, where I worked with churches to rebuild struggling communities on the South Side. It’s what led me to teach and to run for public office.

And even today, I hear the skepticism. Too often, our leaders let us down. They don’t seem to do much to make our lives better. So I understand the temptation to sit elections out.

But this year, when the stakes are this high, and the outcome will be so close, I need you to choose to vote.

Not just because so many have fought for your right to, even though they have. Not just because our very citizenship demands it, even though it does.

I need you to choose to vote because if you don’t, you give your silent endorsement to the way things are.

You cast an equally powerful ballot for four more years that look just like the last eight. And at a time when Americans everywhere are hurting, I need you to make a difference. A website to make the process easy – VoteforChange.com – is a one-stop shop to help you register to vote, check your registration status, apply for an absentee ballot, and find out where your polling place is on Election Day.

At defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn’t come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American people demand it – because they rise up to say “enough,” and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.

All across America, something is stirring. The change we need is coming. And if you register to vote, and get your friends and neighbors, classmates and coworkers to do the same, and if you stand with me on November 4th, then together, we will win this election and change this country.