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Stephen

Silver

 

 

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November 5, 2008

Yes, He Did

 

Much as everyone expected it for the past two months of unanimous polls and unshakeable momentum, it didn't fully sink in until 11 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday: Barack Obama has been elected the 44th president of the United States.

 

Yes, an unapologetically liberal first-time U.S. senator from a non-Southern state, who opposed the Iraq war, whose middle name is Hussein, whose last name rhymes with "Osama," and oh yeah, is African-American is the next president of the United States.

 

How did he do it? There were dozens of key factors in the result, from the disaster of the George W. Bush years to the September economic meltdown to the debates to the boneheaded choice of Sarah Palin. Then there was the decision by the McCain campaign and conservative establishment in general to run not against the Obama that actually exists, but a fictional caricature of him a Muslim, communist, terrorist sympathizer who bares little resemblance to the actual man.

 

But the biggest reason Obama won, I believe, is that he was able to inspire and excite Americans, and make cynical Americans, literally by the millions, believe in the promise of what politics can do. He is a tremendously compelling, charismatic and magnetic figure, and all other things being equal, I'm not convinced the result would have been the same if not for that.

 

So what do we know after tonight? For one thing, we can forget about the Bradley Effect, forever more. There is no Bradley Effect, period. It doesn't exist.

 

Second, John McCain will never be president. Neither will Hillary Clinton, and I'm going to guess not John Edwards either.

 

Third, a new era has begun. Just four years after the phrase "permanent Republican majority" was being thrown around seriously, Democrats will run virtually every corner of the federal government, with the Republicans reduced to a small, angry rump, whose anger at the new president will make the Democrats' early opposition to Bush look like nothing.

 

This was very clearly the most fascinating presidential election in U.S. history great books will undoubtedly be written about it, and I can't wait to read them. But the best thing of all was that history has been made the best candidate has won, and America has been forever changed.

     

2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.

 

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