News

    Obama Has Meteoric Rise in US Politics

    President-elect Barack Obama has begun the task of preparing to take the reins of power in Washington. Obama will be inaugurated as the country's 44th president on January 20. But a little more than four years ago, virtually no one outside of the state of Illinois had ever heard of him. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has more on Barack Obama's meteoric rise to power and what it means for the United States and the world.

    Barack Obama had a simple theme for his 21-month quest for the White House - change. But Obama didn't just speak of change. He embodied it.

    "Because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America," he said.

    As the country's first African American bound for the White House, President-elect Obama has written a new chapter in U.S. history and has fulfilled the aspirations laid out in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal.

    But Barack Obama's path to the White House was unlike any other in American history.

    Obama's first and perhaps most important victory came in the Iowa caucuses in January, proof that a black candidate could appeal to white voters.

    Along the way, Obama benefited from the political equivalent of a "perfect storm". As the year went on, public opinion polls showed that Americans overwhelmingly disapproved of President Bush and wanted the country to go in a new direction.

    "People really did want change," said Democratic political strategist Joe Trippi. "They were really tired of the eight years of George Bush. And clearly, Barack Obama embodied that."

    In early September, Obama trailed his Republican opponent, Senator John McCain, in public opinion surveys.

    But when the financial crisis hit in mid-September, the economy became the number one issue of concern for voters, and stayed that way through the election.

    "Six in 10 voters nationally picked the economy as the most important issue in their vote, and most of those voters chose Obama nationwide," said CBS pollster Fred Backus. "And in the battleground [i.e., competitive] states, that counted."

    But it was more than the economy. Senator Obama raised more money than any presidential candidate in history. And many analysts say he put together the best on-the-ground campaign operation ever seen in all of the key states.

    Obama broadened the Democratic advantage with women, Hispanic-Americans and younger voters.

    "So Obama has reassembled the Democratic coalition," said Stephen Wayne, a professor of government at Georgetown University in Washington. "He has got the women back, he has got the blue-collar workers back and he had a huge African American turnout."

    Obama's Republican opponent, John McCain, was gracious in defeat and extended a helping hand to the president-elect.

    "These are difficult times for our country," he said. "And I pledge to him to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face."

    Experts say McCain faced enormous political headwinds in this election, primarily because of the public's desire for change and concern over the economy.

    Obama tied McCain to the unpopular President Bush at virtually every turn.

    In addition, many experts say that McCain's uneven response to the financial crisis hurt his image with voters.

    "It was erratic and he initially mishandled the economic issue," said Jeanne Cummings, who covered the campaign for the Politico.com website. "That was a gigantic mistake by his campaign."

    In addition to becoming the first African American to be elected president, Obama is the first northern Democrat to win the White House since John Kennedy in 1960. The last three Democrats who won the presidency were from the South.

    Obama's history-making victory touched off waves of emotion around the country, including from this supporter in California.

    "I'm speechless," one voter said. "I'm trying not to cry right now. I'm thinking of my great-grandfather, my grandmother. Man, this is amazing."

    Voter exit polls indicate that Obama's victory was at least in part due to public repudiation of the Bush administration.

    But even President Bush took time to note the historic nature of Obama's achievement in Tuesday's election.

    "This moment is especially uplifting for a generation of Americans who witnessed the struggle for civil rights with their own eyes and four decades later see a dream fulfilled," he said.

    One man who was intimately involved with that struggle, and who nearly lost his life in the process, is Representative John Lewis of Georgia. On NBC's television program, Today, Lewis predicted that Americans will celebrate the significance of Obama's victory for generations to come.

    "It doesn't matter whether you are black or white or Latino or Asian American or Native American, you can grow up in America and be anything that you want to be," he said. "People will be saying for years to come, 'If Barack Obama can do it, you can do it too.'"

    At the beginning of the American republic, only white men who owned property were allowed to vote. In the 1860s, the United States fought a bloody civil war that focused on the issue of slavery. One-hundred years later, African Americans were among those who demanded their full rights as citizens during the struggle for civil rights.

    A new chapter in American history will open on January 20, 2009. That's the day Barack Obama will be inaugurated as the 44th president of United States at the U.S. Capitol building.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United Statesi
    X
    July 28, 2016 2:16 AM
    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora