From Harlem, New York to Miami, Florida, revellers took to the streets as Barack Hussein Obama was officially declared the 44th President of the United States late Tuesday evening. Tens of thousands of loyal supporters gathered in Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois, the state from which Senator Obama hails, to listen to Obama’s victory speech. The crowd was comprised of black and white, from eight to eighty years old, some with tears, others with smiles, but all with an irrepressible hope that the American dream is alive again.
Obama told the euphoric crowd, “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dreams of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.”
Even Obama’s rival, Senator John McCain, recognised the precedent set by Obama’s election. McCain stated in his concession speech in
, “This is a historic election, and I recognise the significance it has for African-Americans, and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight. Phoenix, Arizona
“We both realise that we have come a long way from the injustices that once stained our nation’s reputation.”
Americans were not the only ones to celebrate Obama’s victory. In London, Paris and Berlin, supporters organised viewing parties, and patiently waited out the 5-7 hour time difference in the hopes of witnessing such an historic event.
Dr. Tristram Hunt, British professor of History at Queen Mary University of London, is one among many international fans who believes that Obama represents the American dream. “Mr. Obama brings the narrative that everyone wants to return to—that America is the land of extraordinary opportunity and possibility, where miracles happen.”
The expectations, national and worldwide, for President Obama are high, and we are reminded of the phrase “Great expectations lead to great disappointments”. Obama is entering the Presidency at a time of great political and economic unrest in America. The economy is at its lowest point in decades, the war in Iraq is yet unsettled, Iran is still as volatile as ever, and America’s contribution to global warming is still an international contention.
Members of the international community, and President Obama himself, warn devotees not to expect an immediate change. “The road ahead will be long, our climb will be steep,” cautioned Obama at his victory speech in Chicago. “We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.”
Although Obama finds himself entering the White House at a difficult time in American history, it must be of some comfort that both the House and the Senate will, presumably, be on his side. The U.S. House and the Senate are both majority Democrat following Tuesday’s election; this is the first time that the Democrats have controlled the Oval office, House and Senate since Bill Clinton’s Presidency.
Many Republicans appeared resigned to their fate, and were not surprised by the election results. “Obviously we expected this sort of night,” stated Nevada Senator John Ensign. “The political winds, I’ve said for some time, were blowing in our face.”
Despite the Democrats newfound hold on Washington, the issues remain the same: Wall Street, Iraq and Afghanistan, rising unemployment and health insurance. It is imperative that Americans and the world alike realise that Obama is not the sole answer; for the U.S. to change its course it requires the cooperation of Democrats and Republicans.
For the change Obama promised Americans to take place, everyone in Washington must accept that there is a problem, and be open to solutions. Obama addressed his non-supporters in his victory speech, “To those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your president too.”
The future of the States may still look bleak to some, but for many Americans and many around the world, President Barack Obama provides the hope they need to make difficult changes.