Barack Obama’s re-election for another term in the White House opens a new chapter in the already historic tale of the first black president of a nation scarred at birth by a deep racial fault line.
But for Obama partisans his re-election was essential. Only with a full eight years at the helm of the US presidency will he be remembered for the change he wrought and not just for the change he represented.
Though it was key to the euphoria that greeted his first election in 2008, Obama’s race has rarely been a dominant political theme since.
Quickly, the same political dynamics faced by many of his predecessors: divided, vicious, partisan politics threatened to swamp the 44th US president.
All presidents crave the validation of a second term but for Obama that desire may have been even more keen, as his Republican foe Mitt Romney had vowed to quickly reverse much of his legacy.
Obama’s whole political project, the idea that America is not as divided as it seems, that a grass roots movement can change a nation from the bottom up, and that hope has tangible political power, was on the line.
“Our destiny is not written for us; it’s written by us,” Obama told a crowd at a recent New Hampshire rally, seeking to revive the sense of possibility that powered his first election win, but has since dissolved.