The Next Big Thing: Whether You Like Him Or Not
By Elis Estrada
It is not a secret that I voted for Senator Barack Obama. As a citizen of both the United States and Mexico, the daughter of a woman who witnessed and participated in movements during the Civil Rights Era, and a college student who will be more than $60,000 dollars in debt with loans at the year’s end, it is evident that for me, Barack Obama embodies the values and ideals that have shaped my past and will transform my future.
After two years of potential presidential candidates constantly communicating to the public their desires to strengthen and reunite our nation, eager voters throughout the US rose especially early Tuesday, November 4, 2008, in hopes of finally expressing their desires for needed change and unity in our country by casting votes for either presidential candidate—Republican Senator John McCain or Democratic Senator Barack Obama. In some states many had already taken advantage of early voting, wanting to make a statement as soon as they could.
As if you didn’t already know it, the 2008 Election was one for the history books—a historic day that glorified and restored an American ideal—change. On this day, the air was crisp and charged with an electric current that at the day’s end brought in our nation’s new President-Elect, Barack Obama. In a virtually seamless campaign, Obama consistently carried—with consideration—the weight of voters’ top concerns, including a dwindling economy.
Cassandra Neville, 21, college student and first time voter reacted to the news of the winning candidate: “He did it! He actually did it!”
Cassandra Neville (l) and Julie Nguyen watch election results
Instantly, the news of Obama’s victory reached almost every corner of the world and with it, a surge of elation for the immense progress that occurred overnight by citizens electing their first black President. Within minutes of the results being revealed, I received a celebratory phone call from my mother; with tears of joy and relief, she cried out, “I can’t believe it!”
This is the first presidential election that I have actively participated in and I feel as if I’ve made a difference. Although official results for voter turnouts have yet to be disclosed, CIVIC, a non-partisan research center studying youth civic engagement, reports the number of young voters is up at least 2.2 million from 2004.
In New York City, the monumental gatherings of diverse individuals in Times Square, Harlem and Rockefeller Plaza; the plethora of news coverage and up-to-date information on the states’ voting returns; and let’s not forget the thrill of seeing overcrowded polling stations—reinvigorated, at least for one night, American politics and its role in the lives of every American citizen.
Even though there is a large consensus of approval for Obama, not everyone voted for him. The President-Elect is now charged with the responsibility of change, and if he does not succeed—immediately or in time—our country may be in worse shape than it is now. We yearned for something different, and miraculously, we got it. Whether you voted for him or not, Barack Obama has started a movement for change and I am riding the wave—declaring a new beginning and renewing my goals and aspirations—because if he did it, so can I.