Yale University: Tomorrow, Tuesday, Feb. 5, you have an extraordinary opportunity to change the direction of our country. Sounds exaggerated, but it’s not. As Yalies go to the voting booths, you’ll have the opportunity to vote for the one candidate who has the integrity and experience to stand up for what’s right in our world: Senator Barack Obama. That decision is up to you, and many of us are hoping that you use your powers wisely!
At the rally we held on campus with Ned Lamont on Friday, folks were interested in how, as president, Obama will provide a $4,000 tax credit for each American who wants to go to college, and in return ask our youth to give back to their country through public service. And Obama, the only major candidate who back in 2002 had the sound judgment to oppose the war in Iraq, today has a clear plan to end it.
From his long record of reaching across the aisle to get things done, to his refusal to take a dime from Washington lobbyists or PACs on this campaign, Barack Obama is in a better position than any other candidate in this race to move forward on these crucial issues. Visit Barack’s Web site for more information on the senator’s vision to achieve, for example, universal health care and to ensure college is affordable for all Americans.
And remember, you have until today at noon to register to vote, or to change your party affiliation so that you can vote for Barack!
Barack Obama’s candidacy reminds me that we are one people, we are one nation and together we have the power to lead our country to a brighter day that lies ahead. These aren’t merely talking points or things you might see on CNN. Those of us who have spent time with the senator have been moved by his spirit, his experience and his successes. He is the same person in a room of five, without the glare of television cameras, as he is in a room of 5,000.
These days I frequently find myself thinking about the three nights before the Iowa caucuses last month, sitting in the packed Obama office in Des Moines where several hundred volunteers — white, black, brown, yellow, gay, straight, Republican, Democrat and Independent — Americans all, had gathered to phone-bank and reach out to folks before the vote.
A small, very old man in a cowboy hat comes in. He’d like to say just a few words, and asks us to stop working for a moment. He introduces himself as a head of the Iowa Farmers’ Union, an unmistakable joy and dignity in the lilt of his voice. Talks about how every four years for his entire life, politicians have descended upon the state of Iowa, making promises to those who are the first to caucus, talking about what they’ll do, telling these farmers and voters how they’ll be helped. Every four years,” he says, “these politicians come and talk at us.”
Then he pauses, and with a magnificent smile, continues: “Before you all go back to work tonight, I’d like you to look up the definition of the word ‘politician’ in the dictionary. When you’ve done that, go look up the definition of the word ‘statesman.’ This is the first time in my life that I’ve had the privilege of talking with a true statesman about how we can all build better lives for our kids. Thank you all for helping us with that task.” He stops, teary-eyed, and with incredible dignity and hope, tips his hat and bids us well.
I urge you to look up those two definitions side by side. And as you go to the polls tomorrow with joy and pride, remember that we have the opportunity to elect a true statesman to become our next president. Get out there and vote for Barack Obama tomorrow. Yes, We Can!
Kal Penn is an actor and producer who studied film and sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles and is known for his starring roles in “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle,” National Lampoon’s “Van Wilder” and “The Namesake.” Penn also stars in FOX’s cast for the medical drama “House.” He is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania.