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Why this US Presidential election is historic

Nov 04, 2008 11:13 PM IST India India

New Delhi: Barack Obama and John McCain know it's a historic moment. Whether America ushers in its first non-white President, which is more likely or its first female vice president, the 2008 elections will certainly turn an epic page for the nation, and indeed the world.

"We are one day away from changing the United States of America," Obama has said.

"I'm going to be the President," McCain said.

The 56th Presidential elections have been unprecedented, the rules have had to be rewritten and its changed the way Americans look at elections, who have witnessed the longest and the most expensive campaigns in the last two years.

A list of many firsts:

  • The first African-American for President: Barack Obama
  • The first Catholic and woman candidate for Vice President: Sarah Palin
  • The oldest man trying to make it to the White House in his first term: John McCain
  • For the first time since 1928, no incumbent president or vice president is standing for election
  • President George W Bush leaves office with the lowest approval ratings ever

Obama's presence in the race itself has made history. He's bi-racial with an Indonesian half-sister, has a Chinese Canadian niece, a politician uncle in Kenya and a half brother who lives in a Nairobi slum and to top it all an aunt staying illegally in the US.

His supporters say that makes him worldly wise.

"Obama will be better to the world and to America in its relation to the world. For the world - simply because he is the man who knows the world better, who has experienced what it means to be an outsider in this country and also experienced what it means to be an insider abroad," Shashi Tharoor said.

Others say America is looking ahead.

"It's America drawing the curtain on a bad decade for them internationally, domestically too in terms of what's happening in the economy. They want to draw a line under the bush presidency and to move onto something new and different and Obama has certainly captured that feeling and has pushed it," Sunil Khilnani said.

This perhaps explains another first. An American presidential election so widely watched with such great interest throughout the world.