Congratulations to the supporters of Barack Obama. It's been a long, hard road and you've now reached your ultimate destination. You deserve to celebrate your accomplishment and bask in the glow of victory.
But after that glow wears off, I would encourage you to temper your expectations of what Obama's victory will mean for the country and for you personally. It's great to see many of you get involved in politics for the first time. Your enthusiasm and passion for Obama was evident throughout the campaign and you brought a great deal of energy into it. However, you also seem to have attached hopes and expectations to your candidate that are bound to disappoint you.
In some ways, winning the election is the easy part. The governing will be much tougher, especially in the current environment. Difficult decisions will have to made and priorities established. Obama may want to change many things. He likely will be able to change far fewer.
And those things he can change will impact the country far more than you personally. Something that I think liberals could learn from conservatives is that relying on any one politician to make things better for you is a prescription for a letdown. Conservatives tend to not expect much from the politicians they support. And even when they do (as in the case of Reagan), it's not because of what that politician will do for us personally, it's what they will for do for the country. If the president can defend us from our enemies, not do anything to screw up economy, and limit government regulation and oversight to areas where it is absolutely necessary, we will have the opportunity (not the guarantee) to achieve for what we want for ourselves.
To paraphrase another young Democratic president: "Ask not what Obama can do for you, ask what Obama can do for your country. " He's not going to make your life better. He may give you the opportunity, but it's up to you to make it happen.
The other thing to remember is that life under Barack Obama isn't going to be all that different from life under George W, Bush. You may feel better with Obama as president, but the reality on the ground for you in your day to day life isn't going to change much. It's easy to get excited about promises of hope and change. Just be realistic about what they will really mean for you.