America is Different

Obama’s Election Transcends ‘Politics as Usual’

Last Tuesday night, for the first time in my life, I felt proud to be an American. For the first time, I felt genuine faith in my country and a genuine desire to serve it. And for the first time in my life, my voice was heard and my voice made a difference.

America is a different place today. Last week’s election was not just a decision between Barack Obama and John McCain, or a decision between Republicans and Democrats. It was a referendum on the future of this country. Hope has conquered fear. America picked herself up after stumbling for 8 long years and once again stands as a symbol of optimism and prosperity for the entire world to follow. 

This was not just “any” election and tomorrow it will not just be “politics as usual.” This isn’t about Democrats taking control of Congress and the White House. What November 4, 2008 represented was a shift in the way people perceive government. Obama’s campaign made the election a more personal and intimate choice that will affect how people respond to his administration. His campaign was about giving Americans a real choice, not manipulating them one way or the other. Obama will set a precedent for future presidential campaigns, Republican and Democrat alike, of not underestimating the American people. He has demonstrated to this country that implicit trust in the electorate earns trust from the electorate.

In the end, this campaign really wasn’t about the candidates. Barack Obama is human and will make mistakes. The Democrats now control both chambers of Congress, but undoubtedly, they too will make mistakes. Wars will end, but new ones may flare up. The economy may continue in its downward spiral, or it may recover. We might continue to lose our civil liberties to malicious forces which continue to linger in the halls of government. However, Obama’s symbolic significance is something America will never forget. Barack Obama’s story demonstrates how in the United States, anyone’s dreams can be a reality.

Today, I’m proud to be an American because America chose to no longer live in fear of the unknown. To many Americans, Barack Obama is a phenomenon they never expected to see in their lifetimes. It takes courage to make a choice that goes against everything you thought you knew.

I can’t profess to understand what kind of courage that took. I was born only 19 years ago and I didn’t, and never really will, understand why my parents thought a black man could never be elected president. “America will never elect a man named Barack Obama to the White House,” remarked my father, emphasizing the foreign nature of the Senator’s name in his pronunciation.

“There are just too many people who couldn’t push the lever for a black man.” That was less than two years ago. My family, the media, and millions of Americans across the country agreed with him. I disagreed. And two years later, I couldn’t be happier that America proved them wrong. 

I couldn’t be happier that millions of American’s realized that the choice is theirs. The amazing thing about this Election Day was that the American people rejected lifetimes of deep-rooted pessimism and took a risk. They made the choice for the impossible. And on November 4th, 2008, the impossible became possible.

This column first appeared in The Tech on Nov. 14, 2008.