My son and I were for Obama, and we were glad to see him win, but at 8 years old he doesn't really understand what just happened. In his election night victory speech, Obama's first comment was that his victory proves that America is still a place where anything is possible. I agree, but I think that his victory means so much more than that.
Ever since September 11th, 2001, the present administration has used fear to rule the country, bully the world, and justify the invasion of Iraq. They have used that fear to assault our civil liberties, torture captives, wire tap US citizens without a warrant, and commit countless atrocities in our name. Bush, Karl Rove, and the conservative radio and TV pundits whipped a paranoid base into a frenzy. If you were not in agreement then you were quite simply not an American. Lie after lie was told to the American people, and the people gobbled them up, repeated them, exaggerated them, and then emailed them to all of their friends.
When this election started, so did the fear mongering. Maybe he is a Muslim, or maybe he will do x where x is any crazy theory that you care to mention. People made up xenophobic conspiracy theories, dribbled in just the right amount of truthiness, and then sent out an email blast to "warn their friends." Even the McCain campaign lowered itself to calling Obama "too risky" which was a code phrase that the faithful could understand.
Even with all of the lies and whisper campaigns, and years of telling the American people to fear everything - Obama won. The day after the election, NPR did a short interview with the man who ran McCain's campaign and they asked him how Obama had won. He began to list all kinds of things about demographics, this strategy and that strategy, etc. He didn't get it. Were their celebrations literally around the world because the Democrats did a good job of getting students to register? No. The Religious Right doesn't get it either, and I find that hugely ironic since they are, supposedly, religious.
Obama won for the same reason that a simple carpenter had a huge following 2000 years ago. Hope and Love. That's it. Obama won and McCain lost because the Republican Party relied on fear and hate, while Obama used hope and love. Years of abuses enabled by making Americans live in fear were all undone by a 2000 year old message. Love one another, believe that we can make a difference together - reach out, and make the world better. This is the America that I believe in. This is the America that the world has been so desperately crying out for these last 8 years. We, as a nation, have been given the opportunity to start again, and the majority of Americans reached out and sized that opportunity. I hope that we make the best of it.