The Historic Win of Barack Obama“If there is anyone out there who doubts that America is a place where anything is possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer” (Obama qtd. in BBC, n.p.) These were the words of president elect Barack Obama right after he won the 2008 presidential elections, which became a representation of one of US history’s defining moment.
Certainly, no person of ethnicity has prepared him or herself in the realistic concept that the door towards the White House’s Oval Office would be accessed by a black American.The very high vote turn out in the November 7, 2008 presidential election created an interesting reading. It was noted that over 130 million citizens of America consisting of different groups cast their votes for the recent presidential election, surpassing any other election since the 1960’s.
The clear division among the Eastern and Southern states, racial group, gender perspective, and religious sectors played a key part in the result of the said election. However, one of the most decisive factors that helped draw the final decision is the appeal made by each candidate among the youth and the first time voters (BBC). National election exit polls clearly indicated the success of Obama in mobilizing his supporters. Although John McCain was able to maintain his lead among the older people, Obama’s unprecedented support was manifested among the young and first time voters. He succeeded an impressive 66% votes under the age of 30 years old compared to McCain’s 31%, and won the approval of 68% from first time voters.
In terms of ethnicity, McCain had a slight edge among white voters gaining 55%. However, Obama is not far behind with 43%. Barack victoriously mobilized African-American voters gaining 95% of the black votes compared to McCain’s 4%. Likewise, the strong appeal of Obama and the democrats among the Hispanics was evident when they won the said sector with 66% against 31%. In addition, Obama created a strong connection with the male and female population acquiring 55% and 56% of their votes respectively. While McCain may have won the approval of Evangelical Christians with 74% of the votes against Obama’s 24%, Barack managed to win other religious sectors, including 54% of the Catholics and 78% of the Jewish (Schifferes). This demographical data is a clear representation that Barack Obama’s ascend to presidency created a historical mark in various aspects of the American society, thereby raising questions of what catalyzed his victory. According to Nancy Gibbs, Barack Obama’s victory cannot be solely attributed to the color of his skin “nor did he win in spite of it.
” Obama won for the reason that America is currently situated at a very dangerous moment where majority of the people has spoken and has come together in order to save the country (Gibbs). However, it should not be discounted that Barack Obama’s African-American descent contributed to his victory. In this manner, American citizens have created significant statements regarding what they feel and what they want: (1) they are fed up and frustrated with the current status of the country which is associated with the downturn of the economy and the ongoing war in Iraq (Webb qtd. in BBC); (2) Americans are now closing the door on the nation’s racial past which is a clear indication that the American society is now geared towards achieving the long time impending racial harmony (Webb qtd. in BBC); and (3) the past political imbalance, which was evident in the forty-year domination of the Republicans, should be ended in order to pave way for a different form of governance (Johnson). Currently, myriads of economic pressures are plaguing the American society. Conditions such as setbacks on bank and house investments, inflation of the prices of fuel and food, massive mortgage foreclosures, the failure in the health care system, the growing issue of environmental catastrophes and global warming, the mismanaged war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the trade deficits are all associated with the failure of the Bush Administration. Americans are living in one of the country’s worst decades, and for these reasons, America viewed Barack Obama as the solution to correct the failures of the former administration and the agent for the nation’s reformation and return to power (Johnson).
Even before his ascent to presidency, he campaigned as a “technocratic agent of change” giving hope to Americans. Obviously, at the very moment of peril, Americans placed their country’s future in the hands of Barack Obama (Gibbs). The perception of Americans that Obama was the right choice was further reinforced during his victory rally speech where he stated the following:“Even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime – two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. But America – I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there” (Obama qtd. in BBC.
). It has been well-written in the American constitution that the ideals of the country are embedded in the equal citizenship. The constitution that was made years ago promised liberty, justice, and union among its people regardless of race and color. Despite this law, America remained the slave of its distorted perception towards color.
Although white Americans have been accustomed to seeing and living in the same area with blacks, it has been a general knowledge that the long standing presence of racial discrimination in the country towards the black community has not been totally diminished. Many people still adhere to negative images pertaining to black Americans that are hard to erase. Barack Obama’s story is another major catalyst for his victory due in part to his ethnic descent. American citizens, most especially the advocates of racial equality, view Obama as an embodiment of the constitution’s ideals.
He set forth a ground in his speeches that it is impossible to solve the challenges America is facing unless Americans will narrow the race and color gap. His campaign was molded out of the task that he believes in—to continue the march of his predecessors: a march for liberty, equality, and more prosperous country which was later on reflected in the phrase that is commonly used by his supporters “Yes we can.” Likewise, Obama embarked in his messages that he may not be the most conventional candidate due to his genetic make up, but it is within his story that justifies America as a nation that is more than just for the white people; rather, the United States is a country for the people who wish to be free regardless of their ethnicity.
In this sense, during the initial stages of Obama’s campaign, he won even in the states mostly populated by the whites and was able to create a strong coalition out of black and white American’s which he was able to carry over until the last vote for presidency was cast (Obama qtd. in CNN). Americans have learned so much in the forty-year cycle of the Republican power. They have witnessed various phenomena that catapulted the rise of America to power. Nevertheless, they have also seen the other side of America, unstable and under peril. Many elections have passed, the stakes were small, and the differences among the candidates were little. However, the battle of Obama and McCain was said to be a big election that managed to set out big differences between each party.
Although McCain tried to disaffiliate himself with Bush and his other republican predecessors, for many Americans, John McCain remained the archetypal republican who believes in the unilateral form practice of American power, giving emphasis on the military force of the nation rather than practicing democracy. Very much like Bill Clinton, he focused on bringing the deregulatory and supply side of the economy as well as a tax plan which will be beneficial for corporations, thereby hoping that such action would result in the advent of more job openings for Americans. McCain’s strategy failed to capture the demands of the public. Barack Obama, on the other hand, was the exact opposite. Although he started out in a disadvantaged position as a democrat, his best moments can be viewed with his patience to address the issues plaguing the American society. Obama offered the public a liberal approach towards reforming the nation. He won because he viewed the crisis issue in a mature manner and did not realign himself with the actions that the past leaders have created.
His words created the prospect of rebuilding America as a much better nation without adhering to idealism. For these reasons, he won the American public (Klein). Barack Obama’s victory created significant implications in different aspects of the society. For one, the 47-year old presidential elect shattered the 200 years of racial discrimination permeating in America. As a result, many people see his ascent as the beginning of America’s journey towards the path of total racial reconciliation. Although his appointment may not totally eliminate the long standing racial segregation, his victory accomplished the American dream laid upon by the founding fathers of America—equality and the pursuit of happiness that can be attained through unity.
This does not only apply to the black and white citizens of the country but also the Hispanics, Asians, republicans, democrats and other different sectors of the society who are looking forward to closing the wide racial divide that hinders the country from moving forward (Obama qtd. in CNN). Thus, the celebration of Barack Obama’s victory was not limited across the United States alone; the whole world celebrated his appointment as well. For many, this is a mark of change and a passage to an era where constructive cooperation is expected, and color, race, and ethnicity will be widely embraced. Moreover, such event is viewed as America’s springboard in retaining its economic and diplomatic position and a cross-racial synergy that would strengthen its relationship with other countries (Klein). His election is also expected to help revive the image of America in other countries as the land of opportunity for any individual (Bigg). Of course, Obama’s appointment has its own negative components as relayed by his critics. Some Americans are still worried that Obama is too inexperienced to have the highest position in the country, although the result of the election is a clear indication that he is ready to take charge.
It is worthy to note that he was a first term senator from Illinois before he decided to run for presidency, and he lacks experiences in term of military and office appointed perspectives. Obama was also categorized as one of the young charismatic leaders like Theodore Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and Bill Clinton. In this manner, some of his critics argued that he might repeat the mistakes that the past rookie presidents have made, most especially at this point when the country is bombarded with socio-economic problems (Gage). Another point of argument posted by his critics was centered on his capability to heal the racial divide. Many analysts contemplated that Obama’s ascent may undermine the efforts of discussing the inequality existing among blacks and whites. Several commentators even noted that the results will not have an impact on the elimination of racial inequality. For an average African American, nothing has totally changed; the negative stereotypes are still present.
Yet, his ascent has made one sense—it changed the state of mind of many people (Bigg). Barack Obama’s presidency is clear representation of the radical departure from the norm—that only people who started out in politics are the only ones who can become the president. His achievement brings meaning to the public that anyone can become who they want to be regardless of color and ethnicity. Likewise, Obama’s journey to the White house serves as an inspiration among various sectors of the society through spearheading positive difference. Such positive difference advocated by Obama which landed him his presidency can be an example for groups who wish to create positive change as well. First, capture and rebuild the trust of people who lost their faith on creeds framed by a wrong system. Second, listen carefully with the surrounding issues and find the rightful solutions with the help of other people.
Simple as they may seem, these actions can promote positive changes at a macro-level which can be eventually used in a wider landscape. Thus, as what Barack Obama’s story has sufficed: ordinary people can do extra ordinary things.Works CitedBigg, Matthew.
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