Lukas Hager (USA) (UWC-AC ’11-’13)
2008 was a simpler time.
On the first Tuesday in November four years ago, I stayed up late to watch the Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, get elected. As a liberal from a very liberal family, the future seemed incredibly bright with the young, energetic senator from Illinois promising change and a new direction for a country that had been a source of embarrassment me for eight years under George Bush now in office. To boot, Obama had an unprecedented democratic majority in Congress, thus ostensibly making it easier for him to pass new laws. As a 13 year old, I envisioned a huge upswing for America in all respects. I bought into his message of hope, like many of my peers.
Four years later, I found myself sitting in the library watching coverage of President Obama’s race against Mitt Romney at three in the morning. The last four years hadn’t turned out exactly the way I’d expected them to. While managing to pass a monumental healthcare bill, Obama’s perhaps naïve insistence on bipartisan cooperation resulted in much less progress than many anticipated at the beginning of his term. I sat in that library, still an Obama supporter, but much less hopeful than I had previously been.
Obama’s opponent in the 2012 race was Mitt Romney. Romney came from an incredibly affluent background, which oftentimes making him seem aloof and elitist to voters. Romney additionally came under fire for his views on women’s rights and foreign policy as Obama supporters pointed out his relative inexperience in international matters and his anti-abortion opinions. As disillusioned as I may have been with Obama, Romney was, in my eyes, orders of magnitude worse. Despite the fact that pre-election predictions gave Obama the edge (one such model considered Obama 92.2% likely to win,) I still had jitters as the first returns began to come in.
The election was going to come down to a select group of states: the swing states. The majority of states in the country could easily be predicted. For example, Maryland, my state, was certain to support Obama, while Texas was certain to support Romney. However, there were seven states that couldn’t be predicted; they could go either way. And the way that they went would decide the election.
In the end, the election went the way it was predicted, which was good for Obama. It was said that Romney needed to win some of the states that Obama was projected to win to have any sort of chance at winning. But he hadn’t. At around two in the morning, Obama had won every swing state so far, with the two most important swing states, Florida and Ohio, reporting their votes. These two states carried such importance because of their large numbers of electoral votes: Ohio with 18 and Florida with 29. Romney would have to win both to win the election. But at approximately 3.45 in the morning, it was announced that Obama was going to win the election with his projected victory in Ohio. While in New York, chants of ‘Four More Years’ echoed around Times Square, those of us who had stayed awake to find out the result were all collapsing into bed, exhausted from too much caffeine and too little sleep.
Waking up the next day was something legally classified by the Geneva Convention as cruel and unusual punishment. Yet despite the obvious displeasure of attending school on one hour of sleep, everything didn’t seem that bad. Later in the day, Obama won Florida, making the final electoral tally Obama 332, Romney 206. Everything was officially settled. Mitt Romney gave a concession speech, while Obama came out to raucous applause to accept the presidency a second time. His voice choked with emotion, Obama thanked the voters, saying that “you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America the best is yet to come.”
America has granted Barack Obama one more term in the hopes that he will begin to change our country the way we believed he would four years ago. The old Barack had a message of hope that we believed in; this Barack has the experience that only one term as president can bring. It is impossible to predict the outcome of next four years, or how we will perceive Barack Obama when he leaves office. All I, or any American, can know for certain at this point, is their opinion on how this election will shape the country. And I am very happy to say that I am much more confident that American can turn a corner because Barack Obama has been re elected President of the United States of America.