Five years ago, the prospects of having a black president were laughable. Two years ago they were far fetched.
One day ago, as of this writing, they came true as Barack Obama won the presidential race to become the 44th president. Seems slightly unreal, doesn’t it?
As hard as I fought to suppress it, in the back of my mind there was always that ugly feeling that Americans weren’t ready for Obama and that McCain’s campaign of appealing to the “lowest common denominator” — you know, the people who were convinced Obama was a socialist terrorist, would win out. In the air now is a feeling that America, once again, is capable of reclaiming its place in the world that has been so sullied by Bush.
Exit polls on The New York Times Web site paint a very interesting picture of who voted for Obama. From a high school education level through college and beyond, more than 50 percent voted Democratic. Within religions, 53 percent of Catholics voted Obama while only 45 percent of Protestants did, which seems remarkable when you take into account the anti-abortion stance of the Catholic Church.
Up to the 45 to 59 age demographic the majority voted Obama, while only 46 percent of those 60 and older followed suit. What those numbers show is a dramatic shift in demographic tendencies between 2004 and now with the majorities of nearly every group being won over.
Not all of the win can be attributed to Obama’s charisma, however.
McCain’s campaign took a wrong turn with the nomination of Sarah Palin as his running mate. The “shock and awe” effect of her nomination wore off quickly as she took to the road on a fervent mission to divide and conquer as many Americans as possible.
With tactics of alienating the educated class, accusing her opponents of being east coast terrorists and claiming that only the “real” patriots are her supporters, she did a fantastic job of ruining McCain’s chances of being elected.
For all you disappointed Republicans, you know where to point the finger of blame.
Now more than ever, America is the worldwide center of attention.
Read the headlines on news sites for Great Britain, Australia, Japan, China, Germany, India — the front pages all herald Obama’s succession as the dawn of a new era in global politics.
Even the Russian newspaper Pravada praised Obama, and said ” . in choosing Obama, the people of America have opted to come back into the international fold. Welcome back, friends!”
This election has far reaching consequences more than simple domestic affairs like tax cuts and healthcare.
By selecting Obama, the world sees that we are aware of the horrid policies of Bush and are eager to move past them.
More importantly, it highlights the awareness of the international community in American affairs which sometimes exceeds even our own. As Americans inside our domestic bubble, we are often ignorant of how other countries view us (and our actions), which, over the past eight years, has been with suspicion and distrust.
All those negative feelings are being washed away to leave a clean slate for America to reestablish its long-held principles of freedom, democracy and benevolence.
When the whole world likes which president we’ve elected, that’s a pretty good sign that we’re on to something good. I strongly believe that Obama possesses the qualities needed to bring about a new global order of peace and community that McCain and Palin wouldn’t have been able to offer.
Stay tuned, and watch more closely than ever because a new course for the world has been set by our 2008 election. And while Obama by himself cannot fix all that is broken, he has certainly proven himself capable of rallying our own, and the world’s, support to do so.
Alex Stephens is a junior political science major. His column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.