What an extraordinary night. We headed down to the Northwest Film Forum on Capital Hill to watch the election results come in on the big screen. It was full of people drinking beer and wearing Obama t-shirts. Once Ohio was called as blue, we cheered, because we knew that was what was needed for the Democrats to win. The lobby was dominated with a giant map of the USA, and every time a state was called, it was lit up in red or blue lights. We watched as the blue steadily grew from east to west. As soon as the polls closed in California, CNN stated that, with a projection of over 270 electoral votes, Barack Obama will be the 44th President of the United States! The audience went wild, the music came on, and the dancing began.
We watched McCain give his concession speech, and then Obama stepped up to address hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Chicago. And he said:
For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime — two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.
The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.
I promise you, we as a people will get there.
I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking 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.
And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.
And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.
America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves — if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?
This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.
This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.
We walked from Capital Hill towards downtown. The streets were full of people cheering and laughing, and the cars were honking exuberantly. Obama signs and badges and t-shirts were everywhere, and the mood was so positive and optimistic. A large spontaneous crown had gathered outside Pike Place Markets. Adrian hoisted me onto his shoulders. We raised our hands into the air, and shouted:
Yes we can!