It is not often that we get to watch and participate in historical milestones, but Tuesday night we were a part of an event that will forever change the United States of America - the election of Barack Obama as our 44th President.
Millions of us in the United States and billions around the world watched the election unfold on television, over the internet, on our cell phones, or on the radio. First there was the excitement of the first polls closing and initial results, then the electoral college count began. At a pivotal juncture, Obama won both Pennsylvania and Ohio, potentially swing states that could have evened out the race. When the electoral vote eclipsed 270, there was euphoria. You could see it on the faces and in the eyes of the people at Chicago’s Grant Park. The thrill and excitement in the young voices at Times Square was inspiring. Celebrations from coast to coast erupted as a new America, a changed America, was dawning.
White voters’ faces seemed to beam with pride and relief because they have turned the corner from an embarrassing history of racism and separation. Race did not play a role in this election and was rarely talked about during the campaign.
For Hispanics, this was a day that provided hope that some day a Hispanic could be elected President. The politics of polarization and anti-Hispanic hysteria could soon come to an end as America grows to embrace diversity and form a more perfect Union.
For the Black community, this was a day that would have seemed impossible to imagine only 30 years ago. Obama’s election has changed this community over night. It was beautiful to see hopeful faces for future potential for their children and themselves, and tears of joy and regret that flowed from the eyes of the young and old. A new day has arrived for the Black community. The future of the United States has been changed forever.
Change was the focal point of the Obama campaign and change is what swept Obama and the Democratic Party on to huge wins. Several new Congressional and Senate seats have given Democrats the clear majority they deserve, albeit not filibuster-proof majorities.
This Presidential race was a race that the Democratic Party deserved to win. Barack Obama needed to demonstrate that he was Presidential material and that the public could trust him as their leader. Obama performed masterfully. Obama and the Democratic Party demonstrated a strategic, comprehensive, focused and serious attitude, worked hard and mobilized others to work along side of them, with an unwavering determination to win. People young and old, from every race and religion and all across the country opened up their pocketbooks and donated whatever amount they could afford. The ten, twenty, hundred dollar contributions all spoke to the call for change. And collectively, those small donations from over one million individuals changed history. Obama raised more money that President Bush and John Kerry combined in 2004. But shockingly, this election was not dominated by special interest money. It was dominated by ordinary citizens’ money. And the Obama campaign had more than enough money to launch a full campaign in all 50 states, to pay their own workers and not rely on special interests to carry out the campaign.
During this entire two-year election cycle, Obama never once wavered, never lost focus.
We believe that President-Elect Obama has sharpened all of the skills he needed to learn to be a successful president during this long trial of a campaign. Sure, the wish lists and aspirations of many who have felt disenfranchised over the last eight years will meet him at the White House. In addition, we are still fighting two wars, we have begun to feel the effects of global warming, we have suffered the consequences of our dependency on oil, we are at the beginning of a major economic downturn, we have mortgaged the future to pay for yesterday’s mistakes, and our allies and adversaries around the world are suffering the same economic woes as the US. However, we are confident that President-Elect Obama will lead us to make this country better and help us to improve our own lives. Leaders across the country and across the world are lining up to be the first to stand beside President Obama to cauterize our wounds and lead us out of the many messes in which we find ourselves.
The challenges facing an Obama Presidency are too numerous to list and are daunting. It will take time for real change to occur. But President-Elect Obama seems to have read the playbooks of successful political campaigns and presidencies, and we are confident that he will make bold strides to steer this ship back in the right direction.
Let us celebrate this historic victory and look forward to the New Year we as Americans work together to overcome our difficulties and create a better future for ourselves and our children.