Obama wins historic election

Supporters cheer as they hear results from television that President-elect Barack Obama has been elected President of the United States at Grant Park in Chicago, Tuesday night, Nov. 4, 2008.  (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Ashley Goetz

Supporters cheer as they hear results from television that President-elect Barack Obama has been elected President of the United States at Grant Park in Chicago, Tuesday night, Nov. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

With record voter turnout, Barack Obama made history in becoming the first black president of the United States. At the DFL Celebration on Tuesday night, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak spoke about the stateâÄôs importance in the outcome of the election. “Tonight’s the night to make history,” he said. “Minnesota played a big role in this.” Rep. Betty McCollum also took the stage to comment on ObamaâÄôs victory. âÄúThis campaign has proven that Minnesota wants change, America wants change, Minnesota wants hope, America wants hope, but most of all Minnesotans, people all across this country are ready to end partisan politics,âÄù McCollum said. Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said an estimated 3 million voters statewide were expected to vote Tuesday, fulfilling the secretaryâÄôs goal of reaching an 80 percent voter turnout. The last time that many voters went to the polls was in 1956. Ritchie added that nearly 12 percent of Minnesotans voted absentee this year. These figures help Minnesota remain the state with the highest voter turnout in the nation. Guy-Uriel Charles , a University of Minnesota law school professor, said ObamaâÄôs win is even more of a feat considering the political climate five years ago. âÄúFive years ago, no one would have expected an African American president. There was no one on the horizon,âÄù Charles said. âÄúBarack came out of nowhere.âÄù While Charles believes ObamaâÄôs run for the presidency will go down in history as an example of a flawless campaign, he believes one area Obama needed to address, and didnâÄôt, was the issue of race. Charles said Obama talked about all of the important issues such as war, abortion and taxes, but neglected to directly comment on race beyond answering for the statements made by Jeremiah Wright. Charles added that before the Obama campaign, there were no signs of a shift towards a climate ready for a black president, making ObamaâÄôs decision not to address the issue a risk. Ultimately, Charles said, it was a risk that paid off. Charles cited ObamaâÄôs election as a direct example of a change in the ideological makeup of the country. He called the win a negation of George W. Bush âÄôs last eight years in office. âÄúItâÄôs a repudiation of aggressive intervention and international politics. ItâÄôs a repudiation of what some perceive to be demonization in domestic politics. ItâÄôs a repudiation of what some perceive to be the threat to civil liberties, threats to secrecy, politicization of the workings of governments and firings of US officials,âÄù Charles said. Alternatively, Kathryn Pearson , a University political science professor, said McCainâÄôs defeat comes as a result of a campaign that was full of flaws. Pearson cited McCainâÄôs decision to temporarily stop his campaign and potentially drop out of the first debate in order to deal with the economic crisis as a move that did not sit well with voters. Charles agreed, calling the move the moment McCain lost the election. âÄúHe appeared erratic, instead of being calm, judicious and thoughtful,âÄù Charles said. University political science and history senior Amber Holzmeister , said she felt Obama did a better job than McCain in reaching out to young voters, a group she feels has been neglected in the past. Holzmeister echoed the sentiments of many concerned U.S. citizens in saying that she hopes Obama will focus on fixing the economy when he takes office in January. For computer science sophomore Jill Freeman , she is interested to see how Obama will deal with the topic of education, an area she feels was not talked about enough during the campaign. Freeman added that whether Obama decides to focus on the economy or education, he will, âÄúhave to deal with the mess that is the United States.âÄù As for whether she feels he is qualified for the challenge: âÄúWeâÄôll have to wait and see.âÄù -Karlee Weinmann contributed to this report