In the first election of the 21st century decided by the end of Election Day, Democratic Senator Barack Obama was elected President, beating Republican Senator John McCain. Obama, 47, is the United States of America's first black president. Despite his race, despite his being a liberal Midwestern Senator running with an east coast Democratic Senator, despite running against an incredibly well-respected and admired Republican with great independent voter appeal (at least back in the day), Obama took it decisively. It was a good year for Democrats, what with the economy melting down and the last dying breaths of the miserable presidency of universally despised Republican president George W. Bush, but it did look, for minute, like it might be another close one. If, for example, Hillary Clinton had won the Democratic nomination, as it was predicted she would last year, we probably would've seen a repeat of the "50+1" strategy of fighting the election only in two or three "swing states" (Kerry states + Ohio = victory!), and probably another 49/48 popular vote split. But Obama fought in "red states" like Indiana and much of the mountainous southwest. The map expanded, and stupid Ohio and Florida were justifiably stripped of a great deal of their terrible importance. Obama finally won with more than 50 percent of the popular vote, the first time a Democrat managed that feat in a generation. Obama ended up a much stronger candidate than even his early partisans could've predicted, with a calm, intelligent, cool demeanor. That demeanor got him labeled a stuffy egghead early on, especially when contrasted with Hillary Clinton's newfound fiery populism, but in a time of great upheaval, "appearing presidential" suddenly looked good. And he looked presidential in three debates, while his opponent, John McCain, sputtered and shouted and, in Joe Biden's memorable words, "lurched" around the stage of the town hall. Thing got completely fucking crazy in the last days, as the Republican dead-enders began trying, surprisingly without efficacy, to appeal to the basest instincts of the electorate, painting Obama as a Marxist Socialist (and quietly encouraging people to think he was a DANGEROUS MUSLIM TERRORIST), but every time voters saw the candidate he looked like a rational, moderate, smart family guy. It was a half-hearted use of identity politics by a Republican who always hated the rabble of the Religious Right but it did intensify to uncomfortable levels in the end. The high point, weirdly, was a crazy young white woman in Pittsburgh filing a false complaint to the police claiming she was mugged and robbed by a huge black man who carved a B in her face. The self-inflicted B was, of course, carved backwards, and soon she was off for mental health treatment. It was a nice little microcosm of the state of the race nationally—the race-baiting didn't work! He inherits a nation utterly fucked to it's core by the venal incompetents of the Bush years, and lord knows it's idiotic to invest all your hopes in one guy egomaniacal enough to want to be president at all, but we have secret hopes in our tiny heart that he'll be a decent success. And, of course, we all get fucking unicorns. Seriously. Check your mail next January. Unicorns and cocaine for all! Image: (c) Jana Kohl and Robert Sebree,, used with permission from (c) holder.