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Expert on US Politics Talks About Historic Implications of  Obama's Victory

Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute and weekly columnist for Roll Call newspaper, says that the election of Barack Obama in the United States was an incredibly meaningful and historic moment, as it shattered racial barriers and will now change the way the world looks at the country.

Mr. Ornstein spoke with host Carol Castiel and Jim Malone, VOA Senior National Correspondent, on Press Conference, USA about the recent election in America.

Norman Ornstein argues that, even if former Republican candidate John McCain had run a flawless campaign, he still would have lost the election. President Bush is widely unpopular in the United States because of the way he has handled the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and because of the current economic crisis. Mr. Ornstein said that, given the current unpopularity associated with the Republican Party, it would have been tough for any Republican candidate to win.

Regarding voting procedures and other election mechanics, Mr. Ornstein says that there is much room for improvement. With long lines and voting machines breaking down in some polling places, he says that more money needs to be invested in the U.S. election process. One reform that Mr. Ornstein advocates is that Election Day be changed from the first Tuesday in November to a long weekend of voting. Tuesday inhibits people who cannot get out of work and creates very long lines before the workday begins and again after it concludes. According to Mr. Ornstein, improving the conduct of national elections is critical, especially if there is a close election in the future. A close contest would highlight the shortcomings of the current system and potentially undermine the democratic process.

Mr. Ornstein applauds the speed and seriousness with which the Bush Administration appears to be handling the presidential transition process. He explains that past transitions have not gone smoothly, so this year, President Bush created a “Transition Council.” The council is set to bring the new Obama Administration up to speed on national security and on economic issues in preparation for an efficient transition of power.

To hear the complete interview with Norman Ornstein, click here to listen to this week’s Press Conference USA online or as a podcast.