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LiC steps outside of the movie theater for a few moments tonight to drink in history.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008:

“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 the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled – Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

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.

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he’s fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation’s next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House. And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics – you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to – it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington – it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.

I know you didn’t do this just to win an election and I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime – two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor’s bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. 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.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years – block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek – it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers – in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House – a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” And 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.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world – our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down – we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security – we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America – that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing – Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons – because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America – the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves – if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.”

-President Elect Barack Obama

33 Responses to “Obama Wins”

  1. Amen. And to all, a good night. May tomorrow bring a renewed feeling of hope for you all, regardless of political alliances or ideology. We all owe this old democracy that much.

  2. Amen to that, brother.

  3. It’s a gorgeous victory speech. Imagine those words coming out of George W. Bush’s mouth? You can’t.

    The Prop 8 mess here in California, plus the apparent victory by Stevens in Alaska (!!!) are the dark lining to this silver cloud.

  4. Were there ever two sequential presidents less alike? I don’t think so.

  5. Jennybee, I nominate Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Not. Even. Close.

  6. Some intriguiing realizations on my part last night as I lay abed: the Democrats have historically nominated presidential candidates known for… well, being unknown, obscure. Especially beginning near the mid-nineteenth century. In 1844, the incumbent Whig succeeded to the presidency upon the death of his war hero predecessor–in 1844, John Tyler was the war hero predecessor succeeded by fellow Whig Henry Clay. Clay ran an adamant campaign against the little-known James K. Polk, noting his obscurity over and over. Clay lost by 1.4% in the electoral vote, but it was a crushing in the electoral college, 170 for Polk against Clay’s 105. In 1852, again, a Whig nominee for the presidency, Winfield Scott, succeeded a war hero (in this case the Whigs passed over Millard Fillmore), and he campaigned almost viciously against the obscurity of the Democrat, Franklin Pierce.

    Throughout the golden age, for Republicans, of almost total rule, from 1861 to 1932, several Democrat challengers were considered too unknown to be effective (1876 was a fascinating election, with Democrat Samuel J. Tilden winning the popular vote but losing the electoral college to Republican Rutherford B. Hayes in the election that largely gave Reconstruction in the South its conclusion).

    William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt both astringently criticized Woodrow WIlson as an egghead intellectual who had served a mere two years as New Jersey governor in 1912, but Roosevelt, having split the vote, was instrumental in supplying Wilson the victory.

    In the “modern era,” the pattern remains. In most election cycles, more obscure, unknown Democrats tend to fare better nationally, a point Ronald Reagan made in 1992 with Jimmy Carter, Michael Dukakis (though, Dukakis was the longest serving governor in Massachusetts history, if people want to assemble some kind of mitigation of this point) and Bill Clinton, typically governors, usually from small states, and most successful for their party when arriving to the national scene from the South. Carter, however, defeated Republican Gerald Ford in an extremely tight election in 1976, and Bill Clinton defeated “the resume candidate” and incumbent George H.W. Bush in 1992. Barack Obama, serving as United States Senator from Illinois from 2005 to now, was also criticized as too inexperienced and obscure (and not just by his GOP rival but his greatest Democrat primary foe as well).

    As for two sequential presidents being less alike, many would consider John F. Kennedy as cosmetically extremely different from Dwight D. Eisenhower, just as one example. Taft and Wilson is an enticing choice, in temperament and more importantly in policy and philosophy–that was an immoderate, to say the least, alteration, conspiring to bring forth what many historians consider America’s dramatic shift in governance and, to quote a line from Obama, wealth redistribution, from the significant lowering of tariffs and what is frequently termed today “protectionism,” to the income tax, creation of the Federal Reserve and the direct election of United States Senators–certainly an enormously sweeping shift, as the Progressive movement became more politically potent.

    Andrew Jackson was unquestionably massively different from John Quincy Adams, the incumbent of 1828, who belittled the Democrat Jackson as a “mere military chieftain” (imagine if a presidential candidate said that about someone considered by his countrymen a veritable war hero or what have you these days); in terms of dispositions, demeanors and postulations, the election of 1828 saw the change from consolidationist National Republicanism under the one-term J.Q. Adams and the Calhounist wing of the Democrats with “Old Republicans” falling in support, unlike in 1824 which featured a four-way battle, between Adams and Jackson, the latter of whom especially was placed a disadvantage as William H. Crawford and Henry Clay also ran, and the four candidates were all “Republican-Democrats” after the dissolution of the Federalist Party. This election was the only time since the passage of the Twelfth Amendment in 1804 that the House of Representatives had to vote for the presidential victor, as not one candidate received a majority of electoral votes, this representing the one instance in which a presidential candidate with the most electoral votes was denied the presidency (Jackson) because a candidate has to win over a majority of said electoral votes, not merely a plurality. The House of Representatives, needless to say, favored Adams.

    Oh, by the way, Coleman’s Corner is back.

  7. the south still sucks…

  8. Ironic glimmer, because the south USED to be a bastion of Democratic support. Not anymore.

  9. Yesterday was truly a great day.

    I spent the morning volunteering for the Obama campaign, making calls from a cyber cafe using Skype to Ohio and North Carolina, helping to get people out to vote.

    Then, we go to a party thrown by Democrats Abroad, and we ended up not being able to stay just because it was SO packed. Absolutely unbelievable. We left when Obama had won PA, knowing that we were in for a good night.

    I barely slept last night, with all the excitement and nerves.

    The shitty thing is that W still has 2 months to screw the country over.

  10. FANTASTIC FANTASTIC FANTASTIC evening for us all. There isn’t much more to say.

    By the way Craig, you can paint North Carolina blue on that terrific map you feature above. Obama carried it by 11,000 votes.

  11. Wow Michael. Thanks for your work from afar.

    Thanks to EVERYONE who helped Obama get elected.

    I wake up this morning with mixed feelings. History has been made in presidential politics and I’m hopeful for the future for the first time in years, but I live in a state that is more concerned for the rights of egg-laying chickens than it is for the rights of my gay friends and neighbors.

  12. I’m assuming there will be a NC recount Sam and I will wait until someone officially calls it for Obama before painting it.

  13. Craig, I frankly would be surprised if a recount ensues, since it won’t affect the prohibitive numbers, but I guess anything could happen, especially if there are some congressional seats there in question.

  14. Yeah, I’m really disappointed to hear Prop 8 passed. Myself and a lot of my friends were hoping California would send a progressive message to the rest of the country. Marriage seems a fairly petty thing to be fighting over.

    I guess the more SOME things change, the more SOME things stay the same. Maybe we can only have one sea change at a time in this country.

    Still, I have hope for things going forward. I just wish Obama’s lead in the popular vote had been double digits, but I can’t have everything. Winning is enough.

  15. Have to say. That’s the most beautiful map I’ve ever seen…

  16. I’m sure you’re right Sam, but I’m waiting for an official call.

    Joel, yeah, double digits would’ve been awesome, but I guess we shouldn’t be greedy.

    I’m really surprised about Prop 8. California is supposed to be a progressive state

  17. My favorite thing about the map Miranda is that Democrats lost in 2000 because of Florida and they lost 2004 because of Ohio. In 2008 Obama won them back, but more importantly he didn’t even need them.

  18. Yeah, Florida and Ohio going blue was very cool. It’s also nice to see that the map isn’t solid red in the middle either.

    Take that and stick in your Real America pipe and suck it, Palin.

  19. Frodo did it!

  20. Unfortunately, the state my vote counted went red(Oklahoma), but there was no doubt it was going to go red anyways.

    I say as an expat that I should be able to choose where my vote goes. Would be so much better. :)

  21. Whee!

    I’m pretty pissed about prop. 8 passing though… but at least I’m sure that all the lovely people I know in California voted no.

  22. Really interesting Flash comparisons of various numbers and ratios from the election (you’ll need Flash 9 installed). I love the fact you can compare to previous elections. Look at how different the map by county is from 1992 to 2008 (second link). Much more partisan and polarized now than ever before.

    http://www.nytimes.com/
    http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/results/president/map.html
    http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/results/president/exit-polls.html

    I know the GOP loves to flog the NYT, but they’ve done some amazing coverage of the campaigns this year and their charts and graphics have been excellent.

  23. I feel very proud of my American friends, and my respect for the country as a whole has only risen in the wake of Obama’s election. The majority chose who I considered the better candidate and political philosophy, and by doing so with a non-white took an important step towards healing and reconciliation.

    I really feel for my gay friends that Prop 8 wasn’t defeated. America on balance is such a socially conservative country that hopefully the relative closeness of the vote suggests that in time the right of gay marriage will be protected under law. And jennybee, I’m sorry to read that the foster care act you fought so hard against was passed by the State.

    Thanks for highlighting Obama’s speech, Craig. Together with McCain’s gracious concession it showed America at its best – championing and modeling their ideals and values with gravitas, sincerity, and intelligence.

    What a relief to finally see the banality of political messages/angles like Joe the Plumber, hockey mums, real America, socialism, Obama is a Muslim and friend to terrorists etc. consigned to the trash can.

    Thanks for the links Joel.

  24. There is a dignity to America today that I thought had been lost to the politics of intolerance, fear, and class warfare that have dominated national politics in this country since the late 80’s. Even if this respite is fleeting, it’s nice to know that a candidate can win national office without stooping to the lowest of the low and that other candidates who did (I’m thinking of you, Elizabeth Dole) lost badly.

    Yes, America still has some serious issues of equality to address in regards to the gay community, but at least Obama managed to overcome all the ridiculous labels and innuendo that his opponents attempted to weigh him down with.

    As an interesting segue, there’s a new documentary out about Lee Atwater, the mastermind of Republican dirty trick campaigns that will be shown on PBS’ Frontline next week. Check it out.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/atwater/

  25. Oh, and sartre, don’t know if you heard this, but Joe the Plumber is mulling a run for Congress.

    Yeah, I can’t believe that meat head is for real either.

  26. Joe the Tax Evader goes to Washington.

  27. Telling statistics relating to California’s Proposition 8. Blacks went 7 out of 10 for Prop. 8 while doubtlessly going overwhelmingly for Obama.

  28. I’ve been pretty emotional in the last 24 hours. As a biracial, multicultural American with immigrant parents from two different countries, I’m faced with a reality that I have to admit I never even imagined, let alone one that I had the wherewithal to hope for. I’m not sure when it will sink in, but I’m going to go the inauguration and see if I wake up from the dream.

    As for festivities, I was with Obama campaign staff (my friend is the communications director, the one who arranged for my face-to-face with the PRESIDENT-ELECT in August; now I can officially mount my framed photo!) in their hotel suite last night, popping champagne and wondering how this happened.

    I wish I could share with you a whole bunch of internal campaign pics of Obama in his hotel room last night (I can’t post them), watching the results and concession speech with his family and advisors. Imagine the similar scene in W., but a lot cooler – and real. There was actually little celebrating going on, which is comforting in some way – the magnitude of the position and responsibilities appeared to be weighing heavily on everyone.

    Was it just me, or did anybody else completely forget about the “two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century” at least for a little while yesterday – until he mentioned them in his speech? I hope that’s a sign of things to come.

  29. Wow Daniel, thank you for sharing in such a heart felt way the special experience and what the presidential outcome means to you.

    The voting breakdown for Prop 8 was really interesting Alexander.

    For those curious, NPR has an excellent interview available via their media player with Mickey Edwards on the future of the Republican party. The former Republican congressman clearly articulates much of the dismay that principled liberals and conservatives alike feel in the face of Republican attacks on the constitution, their use of warfare, their anti-intellectualism and embracing of the political tactic of winning at all costs.

  30. Wow, Daniel, that’s awesome. Hope you had a good time and I expect a full report in January of the Inauguration. Thanks for sharing.

    We’re going to have a soiree of our own here in Portland for the inauguration. I’m already looking forward to it.

  31. That’s great Daniel. What a memory.

    It was truly an outstanding night for our country. An acceptance speech has never made me cry before.

    And with that…I’m updating the map. AP called NC for Obama.

  32. i only election based news you ‘needed’ ;)

    http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_on_election_day_people.php

  33. Craig, you can change the map to 365 electoral votes for Obama, not 364. Obama recently won Nebraska’s second congressional district, which includes Omaha.

    And at least one pollster suggests Sen. Ted Stevens will be defeated in Alaska once all the votes are counted.

    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/

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