On November 5, 2008, the Brookings Doha Center, a Project of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, organized an informal in-house lunchtime event to discuss the results of the U.S. elections for the House, Senate and Presidency, in which Senator Barack Obama was voted first African American President of the United States. Over pizza and with live CNN coverage in the background, the audience, which included a large student group, participated avidly in the open debate with Hady Amr, director of the Brookings Doha Center, moderating and answering questions on the American electoral process.
The discussion, which went well over two hours, tackled the historical significance of this election, as well as the responsibilities and challenges facing the next administration, including how the U.S. would address a changing landscape in the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Africa, as well as the global financial crisis.
The audience tracked the vote counting, both popular and electoral, and discussed historical aspects of this election, including record voter turnout. Participants concurred that the election of Barack Obama carried a message of hope and change not only for the American people but also for the world. They did acknowledge however that the new President will have a lot on his plate and that his administration would need to exert exceptional efforts to rise up to voters’ expectations.