Four years ago, this blog made an irrational and exuberant prediction after hearing a relatively unknown state senator speak at the Democratic National Convention. Last night that prediction came true. Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States of America bringing an end to a long and exciting election race that had captivated me for over 20 months. I’ve spent my years in these United States almost entirely in the Bush years. I saw and read George Bush shred everything that America I had envisioned stood for. When you thought he couldn’t do worse, he did. But this election although was partly about the Bush years, it was mostly for the future Obama years. If you believed the Republicans in this election year, Americans overwhelmingly voted for a terrorist-loving, socialist, baby-killing, anti-American liberal with a name that was one letter off from its avowed enemy and a middle name shared by a dictator they had deposed not too long ago. But the American voters proved that they are better than that and time-tested tactics of fear and doubt are remnants of a time gone past. Three words – Only in America.
Reams will be written dissecting Obama’s path to victory but none will even come close to underscoring the American spirit of optimism and hope for a better tomorrow. Mired in one of the worst economic disasters of modern times, bogged down in two wars and threatening more, and sliding favorable ratings for their political leaders, Americans across all demographics came together to elect a man who displayed tremendous content of his character blinding most to the color of his skin. America by no means is in a post-racial time but has definitely embarked on that road and things can only get better from hereon. Naysayers liken Obama’s victory to an idea whose time had come but they miss the larger picture that this idea took years in the making and was nurtured by millions of his supporters who believed in the hope and optimism that he promised them at the end of this arduous journey. I hope he lives up to this promise.
Although ineligible to vote yet, Ash and I were overcome with emotion when the networks called him President-elect at 11pm EST following closing of the polls on the West coast. The images of people erupting in joy all across the nation especially African-American who openly wept at the realization of the dream that Martin Luther King talked. I can only imagine how the people who fought hard for their rights during the tumultuous Civil Rights movement must feel at this historic moment. In Dr. King’s words, Obama did not win this election on account of his skin color but through the power of his ideas. Potential political leaders across the world can take lessons from his victory. His eloquence, intellectual curiosity, stoic temperament, and gentle demeanor was dismissed as elitism but little did those critics realize that these are the exact quality that Americans were looking for. Judging by his speech last night, I hope Obama fulfills his promise of a great presidency that history will remember for years to come.