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Obama Won...what Now?

This story was written by Daniel Xu, Daily Titan

Behind President-elect Barack Obama's overwhelming victory in the electoral college stands the comparatively much less one-sided national popular vote between him and conceded opponent Sen. John McCain (Obama's 53 percent to McCain's 46), and beyond the historic moment with the new leader declaring anything is possible lies the record national debt and grave economic crisis.

America's 44th president announced to the crowd of 200,000 in Grant Park, Chicago and millions of others around the country, "this victory alone is not the change we seek." After a bitter primary and even nastier general election campaign, what happens now could still be more meaningful than any monumental episode in Obama's 21-month marathon.

In a sobering message to his giddy supporters, Obama recognized those who had not voted for him. "I will be your president too," he declared.

Matthew Jarvis, political science professor at California State-Fullerton, saw the potential of a favorable Obama administration. However, Jarvis said Obama must learn one critical lesson from President George W. Bush's last eight years. He attributed the reason for the extreme partisanship in today's government to Bush's alienation of Congress.

"Bush treated Congress like (an unwanted) red-haired stepchild. He basically comes up with a policy and tells them to pass it," Jarvis said. For Obama to bring positive change in the federal government, "he needs to hold big meetings, give his suggestions, and let the Congress work out the details."

Jarvis recalled when decades ago policies could receive passing votes from 90 percent of Congressional members. The professor said he couldn't say how Obama will use his executive powers, but it should soon be apparent if the Democratic president will keep his promise and make efforts to reach across the aisle.

Jarvis added that the policy making process is slow, and Obama's campaign commitments will not come through the day after his inauguration. The president-elect himself acknowledged the hard work ahead in Tuesday night's speech, preparing all in audience for sacrifices they will have to make.

Courtney Baxter, president of College Democrats at CSUF, said bipartisanship also depends on the Republicans. She said she heard McCain supporters gathered in rallies on Election Day boo when they heard Obama's victory speech, and she was "disgusted" by their disapproval of Obama's call for unity.

"Even I don't agree with some of Obama's stands on certain issues," Baxter said. "However, America has spoken (with their votes). Now, we should all support our new president and make changes come true."

She admitted to being a realist, saying she doesn't expect much policy accomplishments at the end of Obama's first term. "I only look forward to things getting underway in the right direction," she said.

Baxter also regarded the single-digit margin in popular votes as significant enough, along with the electoral vote landslide, to declare Obama as America's clear favorite.

CSUF College Republicans President Kelly Kim agreed that it was time to stand behind Obama regardless of party differences. However, she remained skeptical of whether he could bring the two sides together.

"He was one of the most liberal candidates in this election," she said, expressing also her fears that Obama will abuse the "Democratic trifecta" just as Bush had created and passed policies without strong checks and balances between the branches.

In addition, Kim said she was disappointed with the noticeably different margins between the electoral votes and the popular votes. Still, she said she wasn't sure if the president should be determined by popular vote.

"You would see the candidates actually campaigning here in California, because we have such a large and concentrated population," he said, explaining further that the rural areas would see more TV and other forms of campaign ads because they cost less than in larger cities.

Although, Jarvis pointed out that change in electoral methods would be the exact reason why middle-American states would never vote to do away with the current election system.

Whatever the rules, Obama's success came with the campaign's genius in selecting key areas and organizing there locally for a record setting national turnout this election. Many credit young voters as one of the principle reasons for the Democrat's remarkable triumph, and both Baxter and Kim said they could see this new generation of politically engaged youth to continue their activism in their communities.

Jarvis said he was glad to see the enthusiasm among first time voters Tuesday.

"Many of them will follow what's going on (in politics) and keep on voting their whole lives," he said. "Whether you agree or disagree with Obama's policies, write letters to your local congressman and let them know."

Jarvis said, One call to Obama is "just a drop in the pond now" that he has more than 63 million constituents, but it might more valuable for some congressional districts around Orange County would have no with no more than 100,000 voters.

"You would be surprised how your view could be shared by 10,000 others in your community, and the politician up for election in two years will listen to you and bring your concern to Washington."

That, he said, is how the new generation of voters will change the country.

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