05 November, 2008

"Our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared"

Today is a day of change, a day that will surely go down in history. Today is the day that Barack Obama was elected President of the United States.

Although as a British citizen residing in New Zealand I am of course ineligible to vote (in the US - I am a registered NZ voter of course), I have nevertheless followed the American presidential campaign as it has unfolded over the months. I was appalled at the possibility that Sarah Palin might become Vice President. I was rooting for Obama when it looked like he was going to be defeated by Hillary Clinton at the Democratic candidate in the primaries. I was delighted when he won then, and I am simply thrilled that he has won the presidency today.

It is a moment of huge historic significance. America, a notoriously deeply conservative nation with a troubled history of deep-seated racism, has elected an African-American as their next leader. What is much more significant to me on a personal level is that for the first time someone of my generation - a person who is a mere seven years my senior - will be the President of the USA.

Watching Barack Obama's victory speech tonight, I was moved to tears. He is a truly great orator. The highlight, for me, of Obama's speech was when he dwelt on key moments of American history, prompting a stirring, rising chant of "Yes we can" from the crowd.

It remains to be seen whether Obama will succeed in achieving all that he has set out to do. The challenges before him - including rebuilding the shattered economy and ending the war in Iraq - are immense, but from what I've seen of Obama, he seems to have the requisite will and the determination to realise these goals.

My hope is that some years from now, historians will look back on the election of Obama as the time everything changed - for the better.