Politics and the political system are a way of life in the United States. As an American Buddhist who struggles every day to walk the Middle Path, I have to accept that fact that my actions alone can not steer the direction of this country, which in turn has a huge impact on the world we all share.
And while it hasn’t been uncommon for me to rail against the politics of division and intolerance that we’ve seen our president use to tear our nation in two, until now I have only voiced my hope for a new day; we need for deep, systemic change that can turn our nation in a new direction.
I firmly believe we need to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and use the full force of our diplomatic means to encourage all nations to work for the betterment of all sentient beings and the Earth we share. I believe we have an obligation to use our status as the world’s sole superpower to invest in and promote technologies that will allow humanity to live comfortably on this planet in a sustainable manner. I believe we should use our vast resources to take a leadership role in promoting peace among nations, harmony among neighbors and liberty for all the world’s diverse people.
And I believe there is a man who make these things happen for us: Barack Obama. For the first time in a long time, I believe again in America.
We are not as divided as our politics suggest. Yes, we disagree. Yes, we have interests and ideologies that don’t always align. Yes, we have real differences.
But the biggest divide in America today is not between its people, it is between its people and their leaders in Washington, DC. That is where our collective dream has been deferred. That’s where the money and influence of lobbyists kill our plans to make health care more affordable or energy cleaner year after year after year. That’s where campaign promises to keep jobs in America or put tax cuts in the pockets of working families are cast aside to make room for the politics of the moment. And that’s where politicians would rather demonize each other to score points than come together to solve our common challenges.
That is where the real division lies – in a politics that echoes through the media and seeps into our culture – the kind that seeks to drive us apart and put up walls where none exist.
It’s the politics that tells us that those who differ from us on a few things are different from us on all things; that our problems are the fault of those who don’t think like us or look like us or come from where we do. The welfare queen is taking our tax money. The immigrant is taking our jobs. The gay person must be immoral, and the believer must be intolerant.
Well we are here to say that this is not the America we believe in and this is not the politics we have to accept anymore. Not this time. Not now.
— Sen. Barack Obama, Jan. 29, El Dorado, Kansas