Local Commentary

Editorial: Changing the Face of History

Tuesday night’s spontaneous explosion of glee across the globe upon the victory of President-elect Barack Obama was surprising even to those who were most confident it would happen.

Students poured onto the streets of Washington, D.C., galloping down to the White House to celebrate at its gates. All over the country and around the world, citizens were in the streets, driving around honking their horns, hopping up and down in pubs and living rooms, and exhibiting an unbridled happiness that instantly transformed the national and global psyche from despair to hope and promise.

There is so much more embedded in Tuesday’s victory than appears on the surface. Not only did it mark the election of the first African-American as president of the U.S., it marked a profound change of course for the nation, domestically and globally. It marked a fresh opportunity for tackling the deepening crises in the global economy and in deteriorating international relations with an approach that reaches down to the middle class’ needs and puts cooperation and negotiation ahead of brute force to solve the world’s security issues.

In Falls Church and in Northern Virginia, citizens had the special privilege to feel invested and empowered in the process of the historic victory of our new President-elect. From the outset, Virginia had been identified as a “battleground state,” that would be decisive in reversing the outcomes of the last two presidential elections. Virginia’s Governor Tim Kaine became one of the first high-profile public figures to endorse Obama ahead of the Democratic primary process, and never wavered in his support. Former Virginia Lieutenant Governor Don Beyer, whose flagship business is in Falls Church, also leapt onto the Obama bandwagon early. Kaine and Beyer knew that Virginia could deliver for their man if Northern Virginia, in particular, was activated.

Three major Obama campaign headquarters were planted right in the 8th and 11th Congressional districts of Northern Virginia, among dozens opened statewide. It marked the first time in memory that a Democrat had invested any significant resources in Virginia, since no Democrat had been competitive against a Republican presidential candidate since 1964. One of the largest office spaces was found for Obama by his supporters right in downtown Falls Church. The walk-in, ground floor facility was quickly flooded with volunteers, who worked phones, organized walking tours and small rallies all over the region. It was breathtaking to walk in at almost anytime of the day or evening and see the legions of persons of all ages intently working.

There was never any sign that the momentum of the campaign might wane or burn out. There was a level of gravitas and resolve that went far deeper than euphoria or cheerleading that was perceptible in the massive collective effort that has changed the face of history.