Wednesday, November 05, 2008

"Change Has Come to America"

And, yes, I’m a happy man!

Barack Obama has been elected President of the United States!

It’s a truly historic moment, one that signifies a momentous and long-overdue shift in this country’s self-understanding. Change has happened and is happening - change that people can and do actually believe in - and in ways and numbers we haven’t witnessed in decades.


A couple of observations: I thought John McCain, in conceding defeat, was very gracious – which is more than can be said about many of his Obama-jeering supporters. And how overwhelmingly white his supporters are! Contrast this with the wonderfully diverse crowds that, all around the country, are celebrating Obama’s win tonight.

The failure of the McCain/Palin campaign, coupled with the past eight disastrous years of the Bush/Cheney administration, confirms that not only can Republicans not govern, but they can now no longer inspire their base to win elections. In addition, as Liz Sidoti notes, “McCain’s loss [to Obama] in an Electoral College landslide dramatically reorders the divided political map that’s been the norm during the last two elections. Obama won in traditionally Republican states like Indiana and gained ground in just about every demographic group, including the fast-growing Hispanic bloc that Republicans have courted.”

Related to this, I have to say that the massive voter turnout generated by Obama was both inspiring and unprecedented. Not only did record numbers of African Americans come out to vote but I’ve heard that two-thirds of all Americans under the age of 30 and two-thirds of all Latinos voted today. This represents an incredible grassroots achievement for the Obama campaign - and the country is and will be the better for it.


Yes, my friends, it’s exciting times we’re living through. Of course, I’m fully aware that there’s still much to be done to get the U.S. back on track (and in some cases - such as foreign policy and energy - on, hopefully, a whole new track). Nevertheless, tonight I’m giving myself permission to celebrate!

Following are images from earlier this evening when I joined with a group of folks in St. Paul for my friend Michael Douglas’ “Obamarama Drama Party.” Together we watched as today’s election results came in and, in time, celebrated Obama’s victory.

These images are followed by excerpts from Obama’s victory speech, delivered earlier this evening at Grant Park, Chicago.

Excerpts from
Barack Obama’s Victory Speech
Grant Park, Chicago
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.

. . . 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.

. . . 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. . . .

Recommended Off-site Links:
Obama Sweeps to Victory as First Black President - Terence Hunt (Associated Press, November 4, 2008).
Voter Turnout Best in Generations, Maybe a Century - Seth Borenstein (Associated Press, November 4, 2008).
McCain Concedes, Acknowledges Historic Achievement - Beth Fouhy (Associated Press, November 4, 2008).
Obama Victory Sparks Cheers Worldwide - Joseph Coleman (Associated Press, November 4, 2008).
President Obama: This Proud Moment - William Greider (The Nation, November 5, 2008).

See also the related Wild Reed posts:
A Night of Celebration
Thoughts on Tomorrow’s Presidential Election

Opening Image: President-elect Barack Obama waves after giving his acceptance speech at Grant Park in Chicago Tuesday night, Nov. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Images 2-14: Michael Bayly.
Image 15: President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle and their daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7,arrive on stage during his election night party at Grant Park in Chicago, Tuesday night, Nov. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Image 16: U.S. President-elect Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) (L) and running mate Senator Joe Biden are greeted by supporters after being declared the winner of the 2008 U.S. Presidential Campaign in Chicago, November 4, 2008. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)
Image 17: President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle and Vice president-elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill take the stage after Obama delivered his victory speech at the election night party at Grant Park in Chicago, Tuesday night, Nov. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)


CDE said...

Certainly an historic moment.

In other election news: in California, Prop 8 passed.

Michael J. Bayly said...

True, but not even this disappointing (and, from my perspective, ultimately minor) setback for civil rights can dampen my spirits today.

Of course, deep down I know that the passing of Proposition 8 is, in the words of Rev. Madison Shockley, “a devastatingly painful affirmation of our culture’s capacity to inflict intentional harm on millions of persons whose only crime is a desire to live and love honestly.”

Also, while I’m certainly not the greatest fan of Andrew Sullivan, I nevertheless appreciate and find hope in this recent comment of his:

We must never let popular votes affect our own internal sense of our worth, our equality, our dignity as human beings. Our marriages are real; all that is at issue is whether a majority will recognize them in law. The next generation already does. We shall overcome.

For some other insightful perspectives on this issue, click here and here.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for the photos 'n all, Michael.

What an exciting time to be in the country. Did anyone really believe the old white guy had a chance?

Anonymous said...

These are great Michael. I only wish Charlie and I had been there.

I feel so good, so affirmed and so safe!

I know "our guy" has tough times ahead, but if anyone can get us through them, it will be this cool, non-angry, charismatic, African American that a huge majority of Americans has picked to be its leader!

Being from a swing state, we spent long hours at the Obama headquarters, working side by side with some of the most fresh-faced, dedicated, passionate campaign workers since the '60s.

BTW, his true path to the White House all began just blocks away from us in Denver, in late August - and we were there! That's second only to being in Grant Park last night!

With huge excitement, hope, and gratitude for the changing of the tide,


Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Bayly,

My name is Louise and I am a student from Sydney who, to be honest, found your email after a random blog search. I know that doesn't sound promising, but I had this overwhelming urge to communicate with an American, to share my heartfelt congratulations for your nation and how proud I and millions of others throughout the world) are of the great achievement your nation has made in electing Obama president. I believe there is now so much hope for a brighter future, and I am overwhelmed with affection for your nation.

However, after reading your blog i see that you are from Australia too, although I only intended to email an American (I was going to phone random Americans to thank them but I didn't know how and anyway that would probably be inappropriate). And I appreciate that you are working for such a just cause (especially since I am from a Catholic background).

Basically, i just want to express my sincere gratitude to you, on behalf of your nation since I don't really know any Americans but I feel so proud of you all, so grateful, so wonderfully happy about the decision your country has made. I hope I managed to convey my sincere gratitude and have not alarmed you with this email from a complete stranger.

Love and best wishes,