It was a great day of awakening for millions of voters, a one-time silent majority that put aside apathy and turned out to write a new chapter of American History.
By the time Tuesday, Nov. 4 was over, the nation had elected 47-year-old Illinois Sen. Barack Obama as its new president and renewed its covenant to continue being a beacon of promise and freedom for the 21st Century.
But the path to this historic national change was not easy.
The nation is at war. Our over-extended financial system is teetering on the brink of destruction. And the worries about healthcare and job layoffs continue to march forward.
In the midst of it all, buried deep in the foxholes of the political campaign, were cries that too much government intervention would surrender the republic to socialism.
Now the vote has put America – a nation born with the promise to “form a more perfect union” inked into its constitution – toward a new vision that, according to the 63 million votes cast for Obama, means input from whites, blacks, Hispanics, the old, the young, gays, straights and yes, even Republicans.
At first glance, it appears that one in seven of the people who voted in the presidential election were first-timers, according to national exit polls.
The former community organizer also won about two-thirds of Hispanic voters under age 30, the same media exit polls show. Newsweek magazine even stated that Obama’s win in Florida would be because of “his apparently strong performance among Latinos in the state.”
In 2004, President Bush drew about 40 percent of the Hispanic vote.
In Brevard, where 289,000 people cast ballots, there was the 19-year-old single mother and first-time voter who asked a poll watcher one simple question, not about the ballot but whether she could “bring the stroller inside with me?”
At the Palm Bay Community Center, that voice also belonged to the widow from Puerto Rico who laughed heartily as she used a cane to vote for “the little man with the smile.”
Those same voices were heard with the working-class white mother afraid of losing her home as she brought along her daughter – a first-time voter – to cast a ballot, not for a personality as some on the political right feared, but for the hope that change offers.
By beating Sen. John McCain – an honorable American hero who openly courted the Hispanic vote – by 8 million votes, Obama also showed the face of America’s future.
Already, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that minorities – Hispanics account for half of current population growth in America – will make up the majority of citizens by 2050. That means, with the removal of the old limitations that kept minorities from breaking that glass ceiling to the White House, any of those children marching along with their mothers to vote could one day grow up to be president of the greatest nation on earth.
President-elect Obama’s victory was also an eye-opening moment to a war-weary world that has watched as the U.S. slowly pulled back on interaction and amped its unilateral form of diplomacy.
On that night of Nov. 4, Obama stepped to the stage and recognized the U.S. role in the global village by speaking to “all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces [and] those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world.”
The pressing domestic issues Obama now faces are huge – a broken budget, immigration reform, healthcare – but not insurmountable.
Not if we continue to put our national faith in the promise once outlined in the U.S. constitution as read in the preamble; “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves.
Welcome to the Great Awakening.
By Rolanda H. Gallop
Al Día Today