John McCain gave a very gracious concession speech. "It is natural tonight to feel some disappointment, but tomorrow we must move beyond it and work together to get our country moving again." I am certainly glad that Obama won, and though I did not support Senator McCain, I have a lot of respect for him. I wish he had won the Republican nomination in 2000. I think our country would be in better shape if he had served as President the last four or eight years. I don't think this year's campaign showed his best side.
Our first African-American president is historical. As one historian put it this evening, during the civil rights movement President Johnson thought that we would have a black President at some point, but that it would come at a time of growing representation of blacks in government. The historian pointed out that we currently have only one black state governor and one black U.S. senator (Obama). His candidacy and victory is that much more impressive from that perspective.
Barack Obama was not elected because of his race, however. He has shown himself to be an intelligent, thoughtful, composed and inspiring candidate. He had a hard fought battle to gain the Democratic nomination. After narrowly defeating Senator Clinton, he certainly did not have a mandate. There was a concern that many Democrats would move their support to McCain. However, Obama ran a strong, organized presidential campaign and was able to capture the support of Clinton backers, independents and even some Republicans.
It will be some time before we have all the results, but it looks like his electoral victory margin is significant. Hopefully the popular vote will be a similar mandate as well. People stood in lines for hours around the country to participate and record their voice. There were still long lines as the polls closed here in Washington, and those in line by 8:00 were assured that they would be able to vote. I hope that the national turnout turns out to be a record breaker as well.
Barack Obama's acceptance speech was inspiring. He acknowledged the difficult road that lies ahead, and called on everyone to do their part. He talked about the spirit of patriotism and service that is strong in this country, and it will be important in the months and years ahead. He did not promise to fix everything in the next four or eight years, and confirmed that it is not the government's role to solve every problem. We all must play our part in the future of our country.
He promised to be forthcoming and honest with the American people, and to listen to those who disagree with him as well. After reading Team of Rivals just a week ago, I hope he surrounds himself with intelligent, talented people with varied backgrounds and points of view. And like Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama takes the Presidency at a time of turmoil, and I hope we find that he rises to the challenge and reveals a similar strength of character.