By Steve Thomas Observer Nevis Editor
(St. Kitts and Nevis) ” The victory of Barack Obama in the United States presidential election has brought an outpouring of expressions of hope and congratulations around the Caribbean and the world. National leaders and working people have praised the Nov. 4 outcome. “What this young man has achieved is a clear indication that we too can achieve. From humble beginnings, (he) spent very little time with his father, but was close to his mother and grandparents. He learned what is meant to be discipline, to be focused, to work hard, respected himself and respected others,” said St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Denzil Douglas, who spoke Tuesday night at a Labour Party event monitoring the election returns. “I never thought the people of the United States could do it. I never thought they would elect a black man,” a woman shopping at Rams on Nevis said Wednesday morning. In a television address, Premier Joseph Parry of the Nevis Island Administration praised President-Elect Obama’s achievement. “I congratulate Mr. Obama, I wish him and the people of the United States well. Let us learn the good things from this experience, let us use this experience to make ourselves strong as families and as a country,” Premier Parry said. “I do believe that Mr. Obama has the capability to bring all Americans together and make the country strong at home and respected abroad.” “I started crying when he won,” said a woman from the Gingerland, Nevis area. She was not alone. Television images showed tears of joy flowing at the site of President-Elect Obama’s victory speech in Chicago, Illinois, to his ancestral village in Kenya, to the town of Obama, Japan ” plus celebrations in New York, North Carolina and sites all over the U.S. President-Elect Obama, 47, had words for people around the world in his victory speech. “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 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,” he told the crowd of over 100,000. “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 hope. “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 tomorrow,” President-Elect Obama said. The latest returns show the results in the popular vote, percentage of vote and the electoral college returns between Sen. John McCain and President-Elect Obama. McCain (R) 62,521,378 – 46% – 147 Obama (D) 62,521,378 – 52% -349 The genesis of Obama’s victory is captured by Gerard Baker of the Times of London, who wrote: “The country regarded loftily by many Europeans as hopelessly racist and irredeemably right wing has voted to be ruled by a black man, at the head of a party committed to economic redistribution and a foreign policy rooted in peaceful diplomatic engagement. “Two years ago Mr Obama correctly identified that the overwhelming sentiment in this presidential election would be a desire for change. The Illinois senator embodied ” and articulated ” the urgency of this desire. The fact that he was a candidate with less experience in national office than any of his opponents in either the Democratic primary or in the general election, was turned from a potential liability into an asset. The colour of his skin, regarded by many pundits as an impossible obstacle to his ambitions, in the end served as the principal guarantee that he was a different kind of leader for a nation in crisis.” There is no doubt the U.S. is in crisis. American voters identified economic problems as their most important issue in deciding which candidate to support. When President-Elect Obama started his campaign nearly two years ago, his defining issue was his opposition to the Iraq War, but that conflict was not at top of voters” concerns on Tuesday. According to exit polls, more than six in 10 of every voter said the economy was at the top of list. The Iraq War, energy, environment and health care came nowhere near the economy as an issue, the polls said. With this in mind, President-Elect Obama has already gone to work. Yesterday he was scheduled to get his first highly-classified national security briefing. He named a team to coordinate the transition from the Bush Administration to his, a task he has only 75 days to accomplish. It’s been reported that President-Elect Obama has offered the job of White House chief of staff to his longtime friend and associate, Rep. Rahm Emanuel. Robert Gibbs, who handled communications for the campaign, is widely expected to be named White House press secretary. The current Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, may be asked to continue in his job as a sign of bipartisanship. Sen. John Kerry, who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2004, is under consideration for Secretary of State, according to some reports. President George Bush has pledged to work for a ‘smooth transition.” President-Elect Obama and his wife, Michelle, are scheduled to visit the White House on Monday.