Feature

Why this election is historic

How the presidential election could change America, and how it already has

"The U.S. is in need of a sea change," said the Toronto Globe and Mail in an editorial, after eight years of a George W. Bush presidency that diminished the nation's moral and economic might. Electing Barack Obama—a hope-inspiring leader who would be America's first black president—would be "an epoch-defining moment, one with the potential to propel the U.S. forward, ever closer to the noble purposes set out in its founding documents."

The U.S. is at a "philosophical tipping point" all right, said Daniel Henninger in The Wall Street Journal. Obama and other "modern, 'progressive'" Democrats are hoping that the "political planets are aligned" to let them move the U.S. "in the direction of Western Europe" by tightly regulating business to support an expanded welfare system. "This would be a historic shift, one post-Vietnam Democrats have been trying to achieve since their failed fight with Ronald Reagan's 'Cowboy Capitalism.'"

"Only hindsight will tell," said Sandy Grady in USA Today, "whether 2008 was a game-changing election in the way that Roosevelt-Hoover in 1932 led to the New Deal, Kennedy-Nixon in 1960 intensified the Cold War, or Reagan-Carter in 1980 began a Republican dominance." But after John McCain's longshot comeback, Hillary Clinton's glass-ceiling shattering primary fight, and Obama's historic, crowd-inspiring campaign, this will surely be remembered as an election in which "people took charge and made their own history" in perilous times.

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