Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place
where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our
founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our
democracy, tonight is your answer.
It's the answer told by
lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation
has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many
for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this
time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.
the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and
Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay,
straight, disabled and not disabled – Americans who sent a message to
the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.
the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to
be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put
their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope
of a better day.
It's been a long time coming, but tonight,
because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining
moment, change has come to America.
I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain.
He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he's fought even longer
and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for
America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off
for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I
congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I
look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the
I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man
who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew
up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to
Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.
would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my
best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the
love of my life, our nation's next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House.
And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching,
along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and
know that my debt to them is beyond measure.
To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics – you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.
But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to – it belongs to you.
was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with
much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the
halls of Washington – it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.
was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings
they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to
this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the
myth of their generation's apathy; who left their homes and their
families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the
not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to
knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans
who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries
later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has
not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.
you didn't do this just to win an election and I know you didn't do it
for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task
that lies ahead. 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. Even as we stand here
tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan
to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie
awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the
mortgage, or pay their doctor's bills, or save enough for college.
There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools
to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.
ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in
one year or even 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.
There will be setbacks and false
starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I
make as President, and we know that government can't solve every
problem. But 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 join in the work of remaking this nation the only
way it's been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years –
block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.
began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on
this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek – it is
only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if
we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.
let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility
where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after
not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this
financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a
thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers – in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.
us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and
pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.
Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the
banner of the Republican Party to the White House
– a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty,
and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party
has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility
and determination to heal the divides that have held back our
progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, "We
are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must
not break our bonds of affection." And to those Americans whose support
I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your
voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.
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 our world – our stories are singular, but our destiny is
shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who
would tear this world down – we will defeat you. To those who seek
peace and security – we support you. And to all those who have
wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved
once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the
might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring
power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding
For that is the true genius of America
– that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we
have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve
This election had many firsts and many stories
that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight
is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the
millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this
election except for one thing – Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.
was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars
on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote
for two reasons – because she was a woman and because of the color of
And tonight, I think about all that she's seen
throughout her century in America – the heartache and the hope; the
struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and
the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.
a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she
lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes
When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.
the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was
there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was
saved. Yes we can.
She was there for the buses in
Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher
from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.
man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was
connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this
election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote,
because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the
darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.
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
doubt, 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. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.