| Campaign 2008 was one of the longest and most intriguing Presidential campaigns in the history of the United States. From a crowded field of Democratic
and Republican candidates, two emerged for the final contest, Senators Barack Obama and John McCain. And of course, the biggest history maker in this
historic Campaign is the fact that the first African American, Barack Obama, was elected with a landslide vote as the 44th President of the United States. What
are the most important highlights that emerge from a retrospective look at what transpired?
How to explain how and why Obama won? There are many important factors. First and foremost is the fact that our nation, and indeed the world, had
become worn out and frustrated with the direction that our nation was pursuing. Voters were exasperated with an administration that squandered all of the
international goodwill that came out of the tragedy of 9/11 by pursuing a “go it alone” unilateralism for an unpopular war that was akin to a “ready, fire, aim”
strategy. The slide from the economic position where the United States had the largest surplus in history to the state to that where the country now has the largest
deficit in history with conditions approaching that as it was in the Great Depression, added fuel to the fire, resulting in a resounding and universal call for
change. Senator Obama was able to capitalize on this frustration and resentment, rallying support from just about every possible constituency, from the young to
the old, all ethnic and racial groups and both genders. The group that proved to be the most excited and key to his success was African American voters. The
percentage of the turnout reached record proportions and proved to be the difference over and over again.
The strategy of connecting the failures of the recent past to the Bush Administration was an obvious and shrewd move by the Democratic candidates and the
Democratic National Committee (DNC). This move put all of the Republican candidates in a defensive posture that none of them was able to effectively refute
and move away from. The emergence of Senator John McCain as the nominee from the Republican side was another significant factor in Campaign 2008. In
McCain, Obama had someone who had probably the strongest ties to the Bush Administration. He was the exact antithesis of John McCain. McCain was an
insider with a long track record; Obama was a new breath of fresh air. McCain was anti-intellectual, Obama was a Harvard scholar. McCain represented the
wealthy and well to do, Obama was a community organizer who advocated for the poor.
In his effort to gain more separation from the drag of the Bush Administration, McCain avoided selecting a Republican vice presidential candidate from the
pool of competitors that he had during the primary — this too proved to be critical for Obama. In a bold move construed by some to be a “Hail Mary” desperate
attempt to pick someone who was new and refreshing that came from far outside of the Washington establishment, McCain selected Alaska Governor Sara Palin
as his vice presidential candidate. No single act was more helpful to Obama in the final phase of this campaign. Almost overnight, McCain was dragged down
by the fact that Palin became the butt of national jokes, moving Tina Faye and Saturday Night Live to the top of the national television ratings. Equally as
bizarre is the fact that both McCain and Palin spent a lot of valuable time patronizing a television comedy show that made them look like imbeciles and
In the Democratic Primary, the historic challenge between Senators Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama was long, expensive and arduous. Senator Clinton,
who was projected as the initial favorite, watched in shock and awe as Obama, a new force for change, emerged out of no-where to take a lead over the rest of
the pack that he never relinquished. Clinton launched frontal attacks on Senator Obama challenging him in every state right up to the Democratic Convention.
She rallied an historic 18 million supporters, forcing Obama to develop a grassroots organization in every state that would ultimately prepare him and serve him
well in the final phase of the election against McCain. One of the lingering legacies of the primary process is the question of what to do to fix, if not get rid of,
the broken system where superdelegates have the potential to negate or undermine the vote of the people. President Obama and the DNC must take a fresh look
To sum up, the nation was headed in the wrong direction and the American people were calling for major changes and Senator Obama proved to be the
right man at the right time. Will President Barack Hussein Obama be successful in making these desired changes? Time will tell…