Hello Everyone, it’s Emily from KUT Radio in Austin, Texas, where WHYS will be broadcasting from in 10 days time. I’m a bit sleepy from working through 24 hours covering our nation’s big night, but wanted to update you on how the election went down in Austin. (Take a look at Emily’s photos from election night in Austin on WHYS’ Flickr stream) As you know, Austin is a liberal city in a generally conservative state. So when Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, was declared the victor in our long, long presidential race of 2008, the streets of Austin erupted. Everywhere. People spilled out from their homes, from their “election night watch parties” (a long tradition in the U.S.A) from their cars and even bars to celebrate. The police closed down 6th street – Austin’s entertainment district – and let revelers, well, revel. There were horns honking, stereos blasting, and a general sense of delirious mayhem here. People laughed, cried, danced and prayed.
For Obama supporters and non-supporters alike, part of the joy was due in part, I suspect, to the relief that the campaigning is finally over. It’s been two years! Now, the general sentiment from voters we spoke to was, with the election behind us, perhaps we can get on to real work. First off, Austinites told us they want to settle the sour economy. That appeared to have been the defining issue of the race since the bad economic news began piling up back in September. But education and teacher compensation were big topics here. Bonds to build roads and build schools were also passed in Central Texas counties outside Austin.
Many foreigners define Obama’s victory in terms of race. I think that for some U.S. voters, Obama’s African American heritage was a consideration. But I truly believe that defining this election on his race willfully misreads and diminishes a huge portion of the American people’s psyche. Obama supporters responded to his message of “change” and his calls to move power away from Washington and back to the grassroots. The desire for change among Austin democrats has been at an almost desperate pitch for years. Many still felt anger about the 2000 presidential election. Strangers on the street would bond over their concerns about the war in Iraq, America’s image abroad, their dislike of the Bush Administration’s environmental, social and energy policies, all of which were echoed by their U.S. Representative to Congress Lloyd Doggett.
And yet, despite the politics, Austin benefited from the go-go 2000′s. Business and populations boomed, construction soared, life was good for many.
Of course, now the economy’s slowing, the election’s over and there’s work to be done. What do you think the United State’s priorities should be under the next administration?