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“It’s a Good Day to Be an American”

BU reacts to President-elect Barack Obama

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Raul Fernandez (top to bottom), Katie Campanola (CAS’10), Elizabeth Mehren, Lauren Chanel Allen (CAS’12), and Thomas Whalen.

Once Tuesday’s record-breaking, history-making election was over, it was time to look ahead. As President-elect Barack Obama began to plan his transition to the White House in 75 days, the world began to contemplate what took place and consider what will come next.

BU Today asked students, staff, and faculty to talk about their response to Obama’s election, and their hopes for his presidency.

Raul Fernandez (COM’00), assistant director, Howard Thurman Center
I saw a lot of smiles today. We had a watch party last night in the Thurman Center, and I’ve just never seen people that happy about anything. People were jumping up and down, screaming, tears everywhere — you name it. Today, I think it’s just kind of sinking in: what it means to have a black president, what it means to have someone who speaks to what young people care about. I think people are still a little bit in shock, but very hopeful about the days to come.

The racial and ethnic diversity we saw last night was amazing. We had black, white, Asian, and Latino students watching together, cheering together, and believing together. I think it speaks to the fact that we don’t ignore people’s differences. Barack Obama didn’t transcend race by ignoring it; he transcended race because we all have a cultural identity in him. That’s what makes him the man he is, and our president.

Katie Campanola (CAS’10)
In the next four years, I hope that there are changes. I would like for there to be an end to the wars, for the United States to get out of the recession, and for the international community to view the United States in a more positive manner. The election results show that the country is divided, so the major challenge Obama and the new administration will have is to bring both sides together to make changes.

Elizabeth Mehren, professor of journalism in the College of Communication and former national correspondent and New England bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times
I taught two different classes yesterday, and in both of them I threw away my syllabus because this is just such a moment of history. We studied the victory and the concession speeches.

The students talked about the inclusiveness of Obama’s speech, that he wrapped in so many different sections of America, including the disabled. There was a lot of discussion of the crowd, that it was so diverse, that that level of diversity is the new normal. The focus on change — they talked about that a lot. They talked about his use of language, the way he invoked Lincoln. On McCain’s speech, they said if he had talked like that throughout the campaign he would be president. I covered the 2000 election. I was on the Straight Talk Express. That was the John McCain I knew then.

Now Obama has to deliver. Now he has to show us whom he will surround himself by, whom he will chose to be in his entourage, who will be his brain trust, his best and brightest. He has an economy to fix and two wars to end. Need I say more?

Lauren Chanel Allen (CAS’12)
These results mean so much more than just a change from a Republican to a Democratic president. It represents a change in the ideas and attitudes of the American people. My hopes for the next four years are that Obama simply follows through with the plan he has laid out and that all of the people who are staunchly against Obama will see the good he is doing for the country and will support him. I also hope to see racism and prejudices die out within the next four years — it won’t happen overnight, but I can pray for that miracle.

The major challenges of the next administration will be, of course, our failing economy, the war in Iraq, and — a special case — racism. Getting Obama elected was hard enough; gaining the support and respect of all the people in Washington and abroad is another hurdle that, prayerfully, this administration will be able to overcome.

Thomas Whalen, associate professor of social science in the College of General Studies and author of A Higher Purpose: Profiles in Presidential Courage
On a visceral level, it makes you ponder how far we’ve come, and at the same time it makes you feel pride in the nation, that this great stain that’s always been on this country, from when we were basically an apartheid state, is now at least partially exorcised. I think it’s a good day to be an American.

I think — and this cuts across both foreign policy and domestic economic issues — Obama has to wind down the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Not only are they draining us and hurting our world position, but they’re also draining us economically in a big way. We’re talking a trillion dollars. We have large standing armies abroad, and the money is going out and nothing is coming in. It’s having a negative impact on balance of payments, as well as adversely affecting the value of the dollar. So he really has to wind those wars down. In doing so, you get a twofer — you can help the economy and enhance our foreign policy image.

10 Comments

10 Comments on “It’s a Good Day to Be an American”

  • Anonymous on 11.06.2008 at 10:47 am

    Bias

    Believe it or not, there are some people at BU who think this election was a disaster. Obama is the most radical president ever to be elected. John McCain was not a good choice for President and that is why he lost. However, it wouldn’t surprise me to see people calling for Obama’s head in 4 years like with Bush.

  • Anonymous on 11.06.2008 at 11:16 am

    The election of Obama is undeniably historic, as is the fact that such a diverse sample of the American electorate voted for him. However, we must not loose sight of the fact that this was not a landslide election. The popular vote is not far from being splint 50-50, indicating that differences remain and remain strong.

    Lowering taxes on part of the middle class will require raising taxes on the other part. Ending the war will require an entirely new foreign policy that recognizes the significance of Islamic nations and the rising influence of China and its neighbors.

    No American preseident has ever led in a political landscape as exists now. The challenges the new president will face are daunting, and will require at least as much wisdom as desire for change. The opportunity for success is great. The stakes are high because if that success is not achieved, the diasppointment and disillusionment will be great, and all the dangers attached to them will be all too real.

  • Anonymous on 11.06.2008 at 11:31 am

    Any other day thant today is a good day to be an American

    I don’t mean to be a party pooper, but it’s hard for me to accept that *now* is a good time to be an American when you see some supporters and revelers raising the hammer and sickle flag in front of the White House on the night that America proclaimed her new president elect.

    I’m not thrilled, to say the least, that our new president elect has or had ties with ultra leftists and domestic terrorists – doesn’t matter if those ties were a result of a desire for misplaced freedom and misplaced allegiances in his younger years. Isn’t there a danger here of being beholden to someone or something to hide decisions and associations made in the past which, in fairness, Obama may be regretting.
    Have we unceremoniously erased recent history from our psyche?

    Have we become a nation that makes decisions based on emotions, not our intellect. Eight out out 10 I have surveyed cannot even articulate in any intellectually redeeming way what “change” they hope to see, or what “change” they believe is going to happen. (No, I don’t hang around with riff raffs; I hang around with intellectually savvy people in a university based in Stanford, CA. Hint.)

    The media is a big disappointment. There was so much to tell the American people to give voters a chance to make an informed decision. The media glossed over material facts to purposely suppress the truth. Isn’t this a slap in the face, an insult, to those of us who are capable of making rational judgments?

    If race, as people claim, isn’t the issue in this election, then why are people near tears, why is this considered an historic event. If people thought that race was not an issue in this election, then shouldn’t this be just like all the other presidential elections where the most qualified, tested person to lead the nation should win.

    This election was won on account of emotions, not on the people’s intellect. Our hearts above our heads once again. You’re a thinking person. You know what happens when people put their hearts above their head, right?

  • Anonymous on 11.06.2008 at 2:20 pm

    To the pooper

    The most qualified person did win — and the one with the most suitable temperament. Check out PBS’s even handed biographies of the two candidates. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/choice2008/view/
    McCain is a good man — would it kill you to admit the same about Obama? Don’t just swallow the partisan attacks — think for yourself, and stop with the angry rhetoric already. We’re all sick of it.

  • Anonymous on 11.06.2008 at 3:39 pm

    A beautiful day and a beautiful America

    As a black man, I am both humbled and proud to see Obama elected. I like McCain but always felt Obama was the better candidate. McCain ran a less than effective campaign but he always kept his dignity.

    At the beginning of the election cycle, I was firmly in Hillary’s corner – like most African Americans – because I did not believe America was ready to elect an Obama. The folks in Iowa – a state that is overwhelmingly white – blazed a trail that led me back to Obama; If all these white folks in Iowa where willing to pick him over Edwards and Hillary, then I felt he had a chance, that American may indeed be ready to look past race in the election of our President. Yes he got a ton of votes because of his race, but he also had votes against him for the same reason.

    I am humbled by and thankful to all those of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, especially my white brethren who saw past our racial and ethnic divisions to pick a man who in my opinion was the better of two good men.

    It is now time to stop the terrorist jabs and all that ugly stuff and to do what we can as citizens of this great country to help the new Admin lead us out of our current financial and security situation.

  • Anonymous on 11.06.2008 at 9:21 pm

    Everybody who says this election is “historic” is a buffoon! What the hell does “historic” mean??? Does it mean history will record it!? Because I think, I THINK, that this is true for EVERY election. Idiots. I must say, Michelle Obama, America is a great country, but her PEOPLE are very STUPID in 2008.

  • Anonymous on 11.07.2008 at 1:14 am

    Reply to "To the the Pooper"

    I never made any judgments about Obama. Read my post. I did not attack his integrity, I did not call him incompetent, I did not malign his reputation. This is the problem with liberals. You can dish it, but you can’t take it. Tell me exactly where my angry is rhetoric is?

    You wrote: “would it kill you to admit the same about Obama?” I never admitted McCain is a good man. I did not even write about him in my post. What makes you think that I think McCain is suited for the presidency of the Uinted States? You are jumping to conclusions, my friend. Many a man’s downfall.

    You wrote: Don’t just swallow the partisan attacks — think for yourself, and stop with the angry rhetoric already. We’re all sick of it… What partisan politcs? I thought for myself and voted according to my own research (not the media) about what all the candidates stood for, their economic policies, their agenda for the nation.

    I’m sorry my dear friend, but your comments lack intellectual depth. Something that I am sick of too.

    For a change, you could have tried to articulate exactly what you like about our new president elect. Instead, you choose to perpetuate the stereotype that liberals/democrats excel at making frivolous comments.

  • Anonymous on 11.07.2008 at 9:16 am

    Hey pooper -- what about your intellectual depth

    I don’t argue with idealogs — it’s really quite pointless because they just don’t “get it.” However, your point:

    “…our new president elect has or had ties with ultra leftists and domestic terrorists…”

    Directly from the right wing play book. Give me a break. I am sure that you have terrorist ties too — if you define “terrorists” consistently and if you count everyone you ever met in a meeting.

    No diatribe from me, my friend — I have more important things to do and I prefer to have a civil discussion with people who are willing to be open-minded.

    Hey — get over yourself. Call me names if you like — sticks and stones…

  • Anonymous on 11.07.2008 at 5:09 pm

    This exchange is so typical of people who can’t argue point by point, and then resort to dismissing people who you can’t argue them.

    1. First of all, you called me “Pooper” and you started the name calling. Did I malign your being and person in anyway? If so, quote me. You wrote: “Call me names if you like — sticks and stones…” My reply is I don’t have to resort to that because I know my politics, I know my values, and I know how to stick to the facts.

    2. You wrote: “I have more important things to do and I prefer to have a civil discussion with people who are willing to be open-minded.” My post is my post. You “digged” and you took the bait. I talked about my own thoughts about the situation and did not intended to get into a discussion with anyone. Take responsibility for your actions. Your response to my post was a plain attack/offensive stance on my “thoughts” (“would it kill me to admit…”). Stick to the point and read what your wrote before you post.

    3. You wrote: ” Directly from the right wing play book….I am sure that you have terrorist ties too — if you define “terrorists” consistently and if you count everyone you ever met in a meeting.

    Fact – in case you did not see the debate: “Sen. Barack Obama was asked about William “Bill” Ayers in the ABC News Democratic Debate Thursday night (not what I would call a conservative, one sided venue), prompting yet another controversy about Obama’s relationships with people. Moderator George Stephanopoulos asked Obama about his relationship with Ayers, who was a member of the Weather Movement in the 1970s. The Weather Movement was responsible for the bombings of the White House, Capitol and other Washington buildings.

    From 1999-2002, Obama served on The Woods Fund of Chicago with Ayers. (Just a meeting, you say?) In addition, Ayers gave $200 to Obama’s re-election fund in 2002.

    “This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood,” said Obama. (Sat in just a meeting, you say?)”[He’s a guy] who’s a professor of English in Chicago who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He’s not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis.” (Exchange ideas on a regular basis – sounds like more than just ONE meeting to me?)

    Also, I do not have, never have, never will be WILLINGLY anywhere near someone who has leftists or terrorist ties. And, by the way, you put words in my mouth because I don’t define knowing a terrorist in the way that you’ve attributed to me in your post.

    Your wrote: “I prefer to have a civil discussion with people who are willing to be open-minded.” As far as I am concerned my posts are civil, never hurled insults at anyone. Meanwhile, I have been called “a pooper” and that I’m one of those “who don’t get it”.

    And, you think your posts are civil? “Think” not feel is the operative word in everything we do.

    Honestly, good luck to you and I hope that you have a great life.

  • The one who was christened "Pooper" on 11.07.2008 at 5:45 pm

    Adieu

    First, I think I was called a “pooper” so I was the recipient of name calling here.

    Second, I’ve been accused that “I don’t get it.” My intellect tells me that this contradicts a later statement: “…I prefer to have a civil discussion with people who are willing to be open-minded.” Shun the closed-minded and poopers. Nice words to inject in a civil discussion.

    Third, “Directly from the right wing play book…I am sure that you have terrorist ties too — if you define “terrorists” consistently and if you count everyone you ever met in a meeting. Here’s a clip from CNN (hardly a conservative source of news): http://www.breitbart.tv/?p=190343 which shows that this is more than just meeting someone in a meeting a meeting, as you suggest.

    Fourth, I have never, never will out myself in a situation where the people I could meet might have checkered pasts.

    Fifth, you wrote: “Hey — get over yourself.” Why so mad? If you are truly open minded, you would welcome points of view that differ from yours and respect people for them, and not call them names like “pooper” or someone who just doesn’t get it. In as much as I have a lot to say about how you’ve engaged yourself in this discussion, I’m keeping that to myself because it has no bearing on my initial post.

    I’m flattered that my words have made such an impact on you.

    Honestly, good luck to you and I sincerely hope that life will be good to you.

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