The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Historic election sends Obama into office

students march in celebration around campus. (Mara Karell)
students march in celebration around campus. (Mara Karell)

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts if America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dreams of our founders are alive in our time, who still question the power of our democracy. Tonight is your answer,” said Barack Obama in his acceptance speech. Shortly before midnight, John McCain conceded the presidency to Obama, bringing a fairy tale ending to what has been an election that will be forever remembered in our history.

On Nov. 4, voters elected Senator Obama as the 44th President of the United States proving democracy is still alive and the fundamental principles surrounding our constitution are still prevalent in America.

Obama’s road to the White House was certainly not paved with gold. Fierce opposition and formidable opponents plagued his campaign from day one. And despite hundreds of years of racial division, Obama broke the presidency’s color barrier to become the first African-American elected Commander-in- Chief.

Early in his campaign, Obama established himself as a voice of change, reason, and hope. He promised to be the face of a new America, and vowed to remain progressive in a time where progress is needed more than ever. He targeted southern states like North Carolina and Virginia as essential battleground states necessary for a Democratic victory. Obama preached economic expansion through jobs, and promised a path to a better economy, the number one issue for over 60% of voters, according to exit polls.

“The road ahead will be long,” said Obama, “Our climb will be steep. 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. I promise you — we as a people will get there.”

“Yes we can, Yes we did,” shouted Obama supporters at his acceptance speech.

And yes they did.

The 2008 election proved to be a true testament of democracy and the right to have our voice heard. Over 24 million voted early, followed by on of the largest voter turnouts in election history. Obama’s support was anchored strongly by the youth population, where he received nearly 70% of available votes, but also saw victories in every age demographic with the exception of 65 and older-where his margin of defeat was only 10%.

The war of battleground states, a paradox within itself, went to Obama. Wins in Virginia, Florida, and Ohio edged him past McCain, while wins in states such as New Mexico and Iowa were the icing on the cake.

‘It was a really big night where you saw a lot of political, social, and cultural forces turning a corner,” said Assistant Professor of Political Science Kyle Dell. “You can’t help but see the cultural and racial shift.” But where do we go from here?

Obama will inherit the United States in its worst economic situation since the Great Depression. Our new president and Democrats everywhere will be under the microscope as they initiate an economic shift and seek to revive a struggling economy.

“You have to remember, Obama is still trying to reach the 55 million who didn’t vote for him,” said Dell. “Presidents are successful when are able to bridge the gap between themselves and their opposition.”

Obama will be inaugurated in just ten short weeks. On Jan 20, 2009, Democrats will occupy the Oval Office and control both the House and Senate. The United States will officially be in the hands of Barack Obama and company, leaving most Americans hopefully anticipating the next four years.

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