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Staff Editorial | Thursday, November 6, 2008

Congratulations, America.

Shortly after 11 p.m. on Nov. 4, you decisively elected a new president.

This man, whose belief that anything is possible for those who are so blessed to live in this nation, took our country by storm, and changed it forever.

By electing Barack Hussein Obama to its highest office, America has proven that a nation founded on the ideals of equal opportunity can, and truly does, exist.

This is a different America than it was just three days ago. An era of great change is upon us.

Supporters of both parties understood that need for change – the voter turnout for this election might be the highest in a century. The excitement and anticipation surrounding the end to the Bush administration has electrified America, awakening it from a slumber of political apathy, and transforming it into a nation of action.

Students of Notre Dame:

Your dedication to this election, your expression of your beliefs and your involvement shows that as a University, we can be passionate about more things that football.

The voice of the youth of America was heard loud and clear, regardless of what side of the political spectrum you stand.

We were on CNN Election Night, Notre Dame. St. Joseph County was one of the most coveted counties to win in Indiana. Together, we debunked the misconceptions that our University sits in a bubble in the middle of the country. We are politically informed. We came out in unprecedented numbers to fulfill our civic duty. We let our next president know the issues that matter to us most.

Our generation will most strongly feel the effects of the new administration’s efforts to pull our nation back together, to fix our economy and to bring us home from war.

In this time of a momentous cultural shift for America, we must remember that the ties that unite us must be stronger than the lines that divide us in order for this nation to overcome the immense problems we face.

Obama called upon Americans Nov. 4 to “join in the work of the remaking of this nation the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years – block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.”

Sen. John McCain’s gracious concession speech and Obama’s humble victory speech both addressed the fact that though we may disagree on politics, that though we may identify with red or blue, we are a people that must come together to enact the change so desperately needed.

“I urge all Americans,” McCain said. “I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together, to find the necessary compromises, to bridge our differences, and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.”

Both men identified themselves as Americans – not as Democrats, not as Republicans, but as Americans, a title they called the citizens of this nation, who were divided over this historic contest, to embrace.

The hope for a better America rests on our shoulders. Remember the effect your opinions, your ideas, your action had on this nation this week, remember you can make difference.

No one can deny the seismic difficulties that still lie ahead.

As Obama told the hundreds of thousands with him in Chicago, and the millions watching around the world, we face the challenges of “two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.”

But, for now, congratulations, America, and congratulations Notre Dame.

You made your voices heard and you have become a part of history.