Barack Obama's victory (mp3) marks a decisive generational and sociological shift in American politics. Its impact is difficult to predict at this stage, but the expectations of the majority of young people who propelled Obama to victory remain high. It may not have been a landslide, but the vote was large enough with the Democrats winning over 50% of the electorate (62.4 million voters) and planting a black family firmly in the White House.
The historic significance of this fact should not be underestimated.
It has happened in a country where the Ku Klux Klan once had millions of members who waged a campaign of deadly terror against black citizens with the support of a prejudiced legal system. How can one forget the photographs of African-Americans during the first three decades of the last century being lynched under the approving gaze of white families enjoying their picnics as they watched – in Billie Holliday's memorable voice – "Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze/Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees"?
If change means that nothing changes then those who have put Obama in the White House might decide after a few years have passed that a progressive party in the United States has become a necessity.