Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Senator Barack Obama is making his victory speech at just after midnight Washington DC time, after winning the presidency of the USA in dramatic fashion tonight. Whatever the challenges that lie ahead, including the enormous constraints built into the political and economic system he will inherit, it is hard not to be moved by this immense sea-change, especially for millions of African-Americans. Expectations among Obama's supporters in the US and across the world are inevitably very high. His majority in the popular vote will likely be around 53 per cent, alongside a large victory in the electoral college (some 370+) and major gains for Democrats in the Senate. This is a significant mandate. But a huge number of people also voted against Obama, indicating that historic divisions of opinion continue, and crucial swing voters remain more pragmatic than idealistic. President Bush has been decisively rejected, but by those with different views about what needs to happen instead. In the longer run, what has not changed in the US may prove as significant as what has changed. But tonight the possibility of "making a difference" nationally and globally is rightly at the centre of our attention. As a voice from Chicago commented on the BBC: "[Obama] appeals to the world, we have to start thinking in different ways."

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