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Four more years

Kristen Durbin | Wednesday, November 7, 2012

CHICAGO – Forward.
For months, President Barack Obama has been asking voters to help him move forward to four more years in office.
On Tuesday, the voters did just that.
hat remained a tight race until well after the polls closed Tuesday, Obama defeated Republican opponent former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney in an Electoral College battle to win a second term in office. Obama nearly swept the hotly contested battleground states to solidify his victory, carrying Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia and Wisconsin.
At Obama’s election night rally at McCormick Place in Chicago on Tuesday night, crowds cheered periodically throughout the night as major television news outlets predicted electoral victories in those swing states, culminating with rousing applause and joyful cheers from supporters when the first reports began projecting an overall victory for the incumbent president at 10:20 p.m.
Because votes in many states had yet to be counted at the time of those projections and races in Ohio and Florida were too close to call, Romney delayed formally conceding the election at his Boston headquarters 11:55 p.m., when he delivered a formal address to supporters.
When Romney began his concession speech with congratulations for Obama, the Chicago crowd erupted into cheers and began chanting, “Four more years!” almost immediately after Romney concluded his five-minute address.
But the energized crowd had to wait until 12:38 p.m. for Obama, First Lady Michelle and their daughters Malia and Sasha to take the McCormick Place stage prior to the President’s address.
With his signature rhetorical flair, Obama began his speech by thanking his fellow Americans for their perseverance in the face of significant challenges and expressed hope for the future of the country.
“Tonight … 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,” he said.
Throughout the 20-minute speech, Obama relied on anecdotes of ordinary Americans’ experiences to highlight his vision for a “generous America, a compassionate America, a tolerant America” and emphasize their unique roles in shaping American democracy as a whole.
“Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated,” he said. “We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And … when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy. That won’t change after tonight.”
“These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty, and we can never forget that as we speak, people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter.”
Invoking his campaign slogan – “Forward” – Obama addressed the audience, the country and the world about the reality of progress in America and the need to “move forward” as a united nation.
“We will disagree, sometimes fiercely, about how to get there. … Progress will come in fits and starts,” he said.
The president made an appeal directly to those who voted for his opponent, calling the election a new beginning for increased communication and collaboration.
“A long campaign is over,” he said. “Whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you. I have learned from you. And you’ve made me a better president.”
Freedom and responsibility extend to all Americans, regardless of individual background, to make a place for themselves in our diverse nation, Obama said.
“I believe we can keep the promise of our founding, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight. You can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.”
As he closed his address, Obama asked the country to “sustain that hope” he campaigned on in 2008 and use it to change America’s future.
“I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. … We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and forever will be, the United States of America.”
After the President’s rousing conclusion and a shower of confetti on the audience, Ziwe Fumudoh, a 20-year-old junior at Northwestern, said the Election Night experience was “life-changing.”
“The atmosphere tonight was absolutely electrifying,” she said. “This was my first time voting ever, so it was nice to be around people who have the same ideas about where this country should go.”
Monica Yi, also a Northwestern junior and first-time voter, said the rally amplified her feelings about the President going into his second term.
“I’m a huge Obama supporter, so this was amazing and one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced,” she said. “I thought his speech hit all the good points I wanted to hear, so I’m really psyched for the next four years, and I think we have a lot to look forward to.”