Commentary: Obama is a president for all

This editorial appeared in The State.

There is much to celebrate in Barack Obama's victory in the 2008 presidential election, not least of which is its decisiveness: He won 349 electoral votes, when he needed only 270. No bitter dispute over who won this time.

How did he do it? John McCain expressed it well in his generous acceptance speech: He did it "by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once... believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president."

Americans, regardless of political party, rightly take pride and satisfaction in the election of the first president of African descent. This is a moment in which centuries are overturned, negative assumptions trampled underfoot. It is a moment when the entire world looks upon the United States and knows for certain, often for the first time, that the promise of America is undeniably real, and available to all.

But to look upon Mr. Obama only as our "first black president" would be to sell him short, as wonderful and thrilling as that milestone is. His victory is based on so much more than that. He won because of his intelligence, his discipline and his ability to inspire Americans of all colors and backgrounds. He showed humility in his wise choice of veteran Sen. Joe Biden to be his vice president. He led young and old (but most dramatically the young) to believe in politics as a positive force, one that they could use to make their nation better. He said it; he did it; he embodied it - and at every step, he made it as much about his supporters as about himself: "Yes, we can."

To read the complete editorial, visit The State.