November 4, 2008
A crowd of nearly a quarter million people gathered in Chicago’s Grant Park last night to hear President-Elect Barack Obama’s victory speech. Spontaneous celebrations marking the end of our long national nightmare under the Bush administration occurred in front of the White House, in Times Square and in gatherings throughout the country which had an almost New Year’s Eve celebratory atmosphere. Tears of joy streamed down the faces of many. General Colin Powell wept over the win by Obama, whom he calls “a transformational figure.” “Everybody cried,” he told CNN. “We are all Americans again.”
Record voter turnout served as a powerful rebuke of the Republican Party and the policies of President George Bush. Thousands danced in front of the White House, chanting “O-ba-ma!” and “Whose house? Obama’s house!” Others sang: “America the Beautiful” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Pajamadeen heard from people in Canada, people in Australia. All overcome with emotion, all crying with joy and relief from the terrible, almost palpable, pain of the last twisted eight years of fear. In what was truly a global celebration, Obama’s Kenyan relatives celebrated in Kogelo, Kenya, and a national holiday was declared today in that country. Obama is wildly popular throughout Africa.
Speaking from behind bulletproof glass which surrounded the podium, Obama, 47, said: ““If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are 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…It’s been a long time coming but, tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.”
Outgoing President Bush kept a low profile, having voted several days ago. He and his wife Laura celebrated her 62nd birthday during a small dinner party held at the White House. Yesterday was the first time in 14 years in which George Bush wasn’t on the ballot. In the wake of two recessions and two unfinished wars, Bush is now the most unpopular President ever in the history of U.S. opinion polls: his approval ratings plunged to just 26 percent in an AP-GfK survey taken about two weeks ago. Sixty-one out of 100 U.S. presidential historians recently voted Bush the worst President in the nation’s history.
With promises of tax cuts and universal health care set against a backdrop of a deep recession, a huge national debt and an unpopular and costly war in Iraq, Obama’s message resonated with voters, who took what The Wall Street Journal termed “a leap of faith” in voting for the most progressive U.S. president in decades. Obama, who will become the 44th President of the United States, is the first African-American elected President. His wife, Michelle and daughters Malia, 10 and Sasha, 7, beamed as he spoke. The world has changed.
Read about the political climate in Tiny Town.
Photo credit: Larry W. Smith / EPA
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