This story was written by Katherine Yaremko, The Chronicle
The excitement and adrenaline that electrified the air on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008 will without a doubt be enshrined as one of the most historic nights in modern American history. The intuition of a dramatic change could be sensed as screams of enthusiasm were emitted outside residence halls. Inside the Student Center cafeteria, students, faculty and news crews gathered, and hugs and tears were exchanged as a projection screen featured Sen. McCain delivering his concession speech. It was like feeling an electric vibration sizzle within the minds of the University's students.
The moment itself could only be described as surreal. Despite being an Obama supporter, I found it difficult to process the election results. I was thrilled; yet as I listened to Obama's eloquent speech about bringing together a country still divided by political and social views, I felt a small grain of doubt creep into my mind. Could America actually heal its dissidence after such a divisive campaign? Would the promises Obama proposed from his podium in Ohio actually be realized? Or would they merely be remembered as eloquent statements designed to stir the emotions and hopes of Americans?
As Obama continued speaking, and as the cameras panned the awe-struck faces of citizens, I realized that my cynicism was unfounded. Like so many other individuals of the younger voting generation, the age at which I developed an interest in politics fostered the policies of George W. Bush. As decision after decision was passed, and the policies of the administration became more absurd and alienated from the popular opinion of America, I might have developed a sense of politics tainted by greed, power and corruption. Many Americans too young to have lived under multiple presidents grew acclimated to the generally unpopular decisions of our country's administration. There is no shortage of manipulation and power struggle in Washington, and perhaps the idea of a president who would truly look past that seemed more like an evocative illusion. It is without doubt beautiful; but is it achievable?
I cannot predict how progressive Obama's policies will be, but compared to those of the past eight years, an undeniable sense of atmospheric change seems to have overtaken this country. Perhaps, more importantly, the American people believe that such a political alteration is possible. Critics, such as New York Times columnist Bill Kristol, have argued that an Obama presidency would not be as radical as some suggest. He would, in fact, be only a "moderately liberal president."
But politics aside, there is a general belief from the majority of the American people that under Obama, America would be better off, economically, educationally and internationally, as Tuesday night demonstrated.
There will always be divisions among humanity for as long as it exists, but to enter into a new year and a new administration with cynicism and skepticism would be contrary to the point. America has progressed to a period in which over half of the voting population selected, for the first time in this country's history, an African-American for the highest office in the nation. His intelligence, tactfulness, open-mindedness and idealism will serve our country well, and if there remain any further doubts regarding his ability to reestablish America's image, one need only look at the poll numbers.