The events of a week ago are probably the most significant piece of American history in my lifetime. While I do have plenty to say about the election of Barack Obama; most of it is unoriginal. The fact that Obama is the first black president doesn’t resonate with me the same way it would with Tiger Woods. Oprah can identify with the “self-made man” much more than I can. His multi-ethnicity is foreign to me. I am neither a student of history nor a sociologist any more than I am a politician. My vantage point comes from my relatively short American life, my dissatisfaction with the current president and my exposure to the media.
So if you want my reaction you can go here, or here. This post will be a collection of facts, mini-stories and tidbits of information – some more significant than others – that I’ve digested over the past week.
- Obama won more votes than anyone in American history (T) (62,527,406 votes)
- He received 93% of the votes in District of Columbia. (U)
- 9% of “liberals” voted for McCain; 19% of “conservatives” voted for Obama. (U)
- Virginia voted democrat for the first time since 1964. (E)
- Ralph Nader came in third with 642,154 votes – approximately the size of North Dakota.
- The economy was the most important issue for voters – 63% as opposed to 10% who said that Iraq was. (T)
- An Ohio judge ruled that homeless people could use a park bench as their address in order to register. (T)
- A Florida official locked himself in the Seminole County election headquarters and slept overnight with the ballots to make sure nothing went wrong. (T)
- In the six weeks between the conventions and the last debate unfavourable stories about John McCain outnumbered favourable stories more than three to one. (E)
From California to the New York Islands:
- Same-sex marriage is illegal in California again. The vote amended the state constitution “to define marriage only as the union of a man and a woman”. The ban already faces three lawsuits. (U)
- Assisted suicide is now legal for “terminally ill, competent adults medically predicted to die within six months” in the state of Washington. (U)
- Voting restriction wording will be changed from “’idiot’ or ‘insane person’ to ‘a person adjudged mentally incompetent of voting’” in Iowa. The language was seen as “outdated and offensive” to the Legislature. (U)
- Adoption is illegal in Arkansas for anyone “cohabiting outside of a valid marriage”. This includes same-sex couples in addition to opposite-sex couples. (U)
- Marijuana was decriminalized in Massachusetts meaning that criminal penalties for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana will be replaced by a new system of “civil penalties”. (U)
The Rest of the World:
The Economist attempted to measure global opinion of the American elections by posting a poll on their website. 53,000 voters around the world registered their voice. 44,000 chose Obama – a margin of 5 to 1. The poll also found that:
- In 56 countries, including Canada, Britain, Germany, South Korea and Indonesia 90% voted for Obama.
- McCain won in 4 countries: Cuba, Congo, Algeria and Iraq.
- There was a virtual tie in Macedonia. (My Macedonian friends are free to chime in here!)
- Voters from 136 different countries participated.
Russia on the other hand did not seem so thrilled. Dmitry Medvedev decided to give a speech on the 5th of November: “This timing was meant to sow that Russia’s agenda is unaffected by such trivia as America’s presidential election.” Medvedev neither congratulated nor acknowledged Obama’s win during his first state-of-the-union address. He did send a telegram later though. (E)
- Unrelated to The Economist poll, the poll conducted on this blog found that the majority (4) supported McCain, while Obama, and my wife split the other 4 votes. Bob Barker did not have any supporters.
“Change has come to America.” Barack Obama
“I’ve loved this country, I’ve loved the concepts and the ideals that this country is based on. And when Barack said early in the campaign…that the practice of the country is not living up to the promise… I’ve always believed (that it could happen)” - Will Smith on Oprah
“(The U.S.) is a country that retains its ability to startle the world – and in a good way, with our freedom. It is a place, finally, where the content of our President’s character is more important that the color of his skin.” – Joe Klein in Time
“If John McCain had campaigned with the same eloquence with which he conceded, he might have been elected.” Richard Kavesh in New York Times
"Ladies and gentlemen, Barack Obama is our new president. And I think I speak for most Americans when I say, anybody mind if he starts a little early?" - David Letterman
"And people were worried about the Bradley effect. Apparently, it was not nearly as strong as the Bush effect." -Jay Leno
"Last night, after Barack Obama was declared the winner, President Bush called Obama, promised to work with him to guarantee a smooth transition. Yeah. Yeah, when we heard this, Obama said, 'Thanks, but you've done enough.'" -Conan O'Brien
(E) = The Economist November 8th-14th 2008
(T) = Time November 17th, 2008
(U) = USA Today Thursday, November 6, 2008