Friday, 7 November 2008

Voting like a child: Did the youth turn out and vote Obama?

The Americans were voting Tuesday. But which Americans? Who was turning out? All eyes were on young voters in swing states.

There is no doubt that among the young there was, indeed is, an energy and excitement – and, I daresay, an optimism – about this election that other’s just haven’t produced.

Young people were asking each other, “Did you vote yet?” It was the only story in the media that night, but it was also the only story in the coffee houses and the campuses, it was the word on the street and the talk of Twitter. Obamuccinos were outselling McCain Mochas! ‘Happy Obama Day’ and ‘Gobama!’ were the memes of the moment.

The seeds planted in 2000 were coming home to roost: there has been a steady increase in youth turn-out since the high-profile controversy of that election. People don’t want to feel like their uncast vote could have changed an election. But this election’s youth turnout was to show a jump to higher than it’s ever been.

The assumption was always that this would fit nicely with the Obama energy and optimism and reward the attention to the young paid by his campaign. What's easy to forget now is that this was largely guesswork. Polls are conducted on landlines. The 30% of under-thirties that don’t have their own home telephone cannot be polled.

However, no poll was needed to take note of the young Obama Democrats dancing in the streets of U. South Florida, U. Maryland and U. Penn in celebration. In fact, nearly 7 in 10 voters under the age of thirty had supported Obama. This is the highest share of youth support since the exit polls began recording the age of voters in 1976, and 5 times better than John Kerry's performance with the demographic four years ago.

Since Iowa in January Barack Obama has know he could count on the much talked about youth vote and the data as well as the result suggests he wasn't disappointed. Well done, kids!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

What does England think? British opinions on the US election

As British networks filled time between polls closing, reporters are grabbed influential Brits to test the pulse of the Old Country.

Always ready with an opinion is Christopher Hitchens: “I think it’s a zeitgeist change. It’s an historic, seismic change. The middle-class has flipped hard against the Republican Party. On its watch all the important things about the American Dream have gone sour.”

Even comic Ricky Gervais had his two cents: “I’ve never been interested in politics. I rarely vote in Britain but I’ve been caught up in it. When I saw Barack Obama for the first time it was just amazing. He hasn’t put a foot wrong, except for being elitist and intelligent."

Comedian and actor Eddie Izzard had probably been drinking: “Looks like the BBC is already projecting Obama to win. It’s fantastic. The third millennium begins tonight – maybe in half an hour. Slavery is just over. Well, not over. I think it will be great for America. I think it will be great for the world.”

Simon Schama, historian looking to the future as the BBC starts to get carried away: “Obama is a world figure who, in an instinctive sense, is more likely to use diplomacy. You cannot possibly overestimate the way this will be seen as a new America because it has Barack Obama as President.”

What strikes me is the change in the commentators themselves. Hitchens is usually seen as a cynical realist and occasionally even a conservative for his agreement with the Party on Iraq. Gervais usually doesn’t care. Now these two, like so many others, are themselves a part of the seismic shift they are observing, as well as of the sense of idealism that pervades the Obama side of this election.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Barack Obama’s Acceptance Speech: full text

Barack Obama spoke in Grant Park in Chicago, IL at 12:00am ET on Wednesday, November 5, 2008. He spoke thus:

Hello, Chicago.

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders whether the dream of our fathers is alive in our time, who questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours, four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must by different, that their voices could be that difference. It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled; Americans who sent a message around the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states, we are and always will be the United States of American

It is the answer that led those who’d been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day. It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

A little bit earlier this evening I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Senator McCain. Senator McCain fought long and hard in this campaign and he’s fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America than most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him, I congratulate Governor Palin for all that they’ve achieved and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode home with on the train to Delaware, the Vice President Elect of the United States, Joe Biden.
And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family, the love of my live, the nation’s next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the white house. And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother’s watching along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure. To my sister Maya, my sister Auma, all my other brothers and sisters. Thank you so much for all the support that you’ve given me. I am grateful to them.

To my campaign manager, David Plouffe, the unsung hero of this campaign who built the best, the best political campaign I think in the history of the United States of America. To my chief strategist, David Axelrod, who’s been a partner with me everystep of the way. To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics, you made this happen and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to; it belongs to you. It belongs to you. I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington; it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.
It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give ten dollars and twenty dollars to the cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy, who left their homes and their family for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep. It drew strength from the not so young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organised and proved that two centuries later a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from the earth. This is your victory.

I know you didn’t do this just to win an election. I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest in our lifetime: two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage, or pay their doctors bills, or save enough for their child’s college education. There’s new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair. The road ahead will be long, our climb will be steep, we may not get there in one year or even in one term. But America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision I make as President. And we know the government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years: block by block, brick by crick, callused hand by callused hand. What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek; it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice. So let us summon a new spirit, of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us one thing it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers. We rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let’s remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity. Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight we do so with a measure of humility and a determination to heel the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break, our bonds of affection.”

To those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices, I need your help and I will be your president too. And all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular but our destiny is shared. A new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

To those, to those who would tear the world down, we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security, we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright tonight we proved once more that 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.

That’s the true genius of America: that America can change; our Union can be perfected. What we’ve already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow. This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations, but one that’s on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She is a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election, except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is a hundred and six years old. She was born just a generation past slavery, a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky, when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons: because she was a woman and because of the colour of her skin. And tonight I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America: the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t and the people who pressed on with that American creed, yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silent and their hopes dismissed, she live to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dustbowl and Depression across the land she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbour and tyranny threatened the world she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the busses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma and a preacher from Atlanta who told the people that we shall overcome. Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin. A world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen and cast her vote, because after a hundred and six years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far, we have seen so much, but there is so much more to do. So tonight let us ask ourselves, if our children should live to see the next century – if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper -- what change will they see, what progress will we have made. This is our chance to answer that call, this is our moment, this is our time to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids, to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace, to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth that out of many we are one, where we breathe we hope and where we are met with cynicism and doubt and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we can.

Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Obama Wins: BBC calls election for Obama.

The 44th President of the United States will be Barack Obama.

11pm: East coast polling closes and states are officially projected for Barack Obama. California was called first. Washington followed seconds later, bringing Obama votes to over the required 270 and sending him into the White House.

ABC, CNN, NBC and the BBC have call the election for the Democratic candidate.

Victory marks the end of a momentous campaign. Mobilising thousands upon thousands of volunteers a much more democratic model of campaigning built support from the ground up, encountering wild enthusiasm among the young -- they have realised it is their time.

People who had never felt engaged by the political process before have become involved. The celebrations will be enormous, although they may be brief. The problems facing a nation in debt and at war are immense. So the honeymoon may be short, there will be one heck of a party tonight.

The crowds are cheering, the flags are waving in Chicago. Rev. Jesse Jackson is in tears. The people spoke tonight and they spoke loudly and clearly. And so did the world.

In Kenya, in a sleepy village in the early morning, there is dancing in the streets. In Chicago they will dance through the night; Kenyans are dancing into the morning; we are singing in our hearts.

BBC urged to call election for Obama; argument ensues

Noted historian Simon Schama let his Obama support get the better of him when he interrupted a reptort to ask the show’s host,

“Aren’t you going to call the election, David?”

Host David Dimbleby, who had earlier announced that Fox News wasn’t good enough for the BBC to report an Obama victory in Ohio, responded by questioning Schama’s credibility as an historian and chastising him for wanting to report the story before having all the facts.

Although at the time Schama was sitting next to the staunch Republican US Ambassador to the UN, an unusually quiet John Bolton made no comment. Even strong Republican supporters are beginning to realise that it’s over.

The silence didn't last long as the truth sank in. Bolton later demanded that the BBC fire one of its interviewers who was continually asking for reactions to the Republican defeat.

Obama takes Ohio

It must be over now. This is Obama's night.

Finally, Georgia has been projected for McCain. But it took so long. It shouldn't have been so close. It shows the force of the Obama phenomenon even in Republican states. If Ohio has gone blue, Georgia's red is too little too late.

The Republican faces look depressed in Ohio. Fox News -- yes, that's right FOX -- has called Ohio for Obama. The Obama steamroller is rolling. If this call is right, we almost certainly have our winner.

FOX seems to be calling sooner than everyone else. Maybe they just want to get it over with.

Happy Obama Day!

Monday, 3 November 2008

Obama Cakes: accidental chocolate candicrepes

2 egg whites
120ml milk
120ml water
95g flour
25g sugar
30g butter
1 tbsp cocoa

Ingredients yield three crepes, no policies, and an endless supply of hopeful generalisations.

1. Whisk and beat ingredients together.
2. Fry them.
3. Serve piping hot with American apple pie and so much cream that you can no longer see the chocolate.

Bon app├ętit! Swallow it all.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Countdown to Obamageddon: are these last days the Last Days?

It’s the question that’s been on the tip of the brain of every serious political commentator for decades. It’s about time one of us came out and said it. As usual that someone will have to be me.

Is Barack Obama too skinny to lead the free world?

The free world is increasingly a fat world. An elitist beanpole risks alienating the fatheads of wobbly-middle America. He may be the thinnest, but he wouldn’t be the first.

The phenomenon of ‘Too Thin to Win’ was first noted by the celebrated political historian and social critic Arthur Meier Schlesinger, Jr. in the 1884 election of Grover Cleveland over James ‘Slim’ Blaine. Amid speculation of venality and anti-Catholic prejudice within the Grand Old Party, Schlesinger was the first to realise that weight may have been the decisive factor in his renowned Washington Post article, ‘Grover Cleveland ate all the American apple pies’.

When the beef asked Schlesinger he summed it up for us: “Masked as cookery advice and homemade pie recipes, a number of articles in the immediate run-up to that election carried the implication that ‘Willowy’ Blaine (as he was known) was a skinny white-bread meat-and-two-veg man whose delicate constitution could scarcely handle a slice of hot American pie. It’s no exaggeration to say that this cost him the White House”.

Much is often made of the fact that in US presidential politics the tallest man wins. Less well known and probably equally true is that the fat man always wins, serves two terms, and makes the word a better place. On top of that, Obama is youthfully skinny, schoolboy skinny.
It's getting late in the day to prove your worth, but for America's sack we need a November surprise: we need someone to pig out and put on the weight of the highest office.
Our last best hope may be found on our Last Frontier.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

NaBloPoMo and the Big O

A late night hello marks the start of my live as a NaBloPoMoer.
This post is the first of my National Blog Posting Month daily-post-for-a-month post posts.

<==== I am NaBloPoMo. And so can you.

Where's the beef?
would like to take this historic opportunity to officially endorse blogging, voting and hoping.

Blog like a NaBloPoMo, vote Obama, and hope he can grow and learn.

Coming soon... Obamageddon: Why Obama Is Unpresidential