Barack Obama’s victory will go down in history as nothing short of remarkable. “America,” he powerfully stated, “is a place where all things are possible . . . The dream of our founders is alive . . . The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.” President-elect Obama’s campaign success will surely be studied for his effectiveness in mobilizing millions of supporters to not only vote, but to participate in the campaign process. Some have quipped, “When you have a community organizer on the ticket, you have an organized campaign.” But all the organization in the world could not ensure victory; I believe Obama’s true success is found in his ability to inspire and lead. As Senator McCain noted in his concession speech, “[Senator Obama] inspired the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president.”
The election of Barack Obama to the presidency is an example of a fundamental truth of human nature that we desire to be a part of something larger than ourselves. Barack Obama provided the people of this country with a vision they could follow: Hope and Change for the public good. His vision inspired action, and action produced results. The message of change resonates with everyone differently, but I think one of the most significant achievements of President-elect Obama’s campaign is, as Senator McCain indicated, that people believed their collective action could effect change and thus influence the public good.
Individual Americans do have the power to influence the political direction of this country; this is the virtue of democracy. The Americans who elected Barack Obama did not wait in lines on Tuesday as private actors pursuing their own best interests; they waited in lines as citizens of a nation united in their desire for change. In his victory speech, President-elect Obama said, “The change we seek cannot happen without the spirit of service and sacrifice . . . In this country, we rise and fall as one party, as one people.” The spirit of democracy is alive and well in the U.S.A., and if the citizens of this country continue to believe that through collective action the public good can be served, I feel hopeful for America.