It is one of the great political ironies of the late 20th century that the 1st female leader of a country in the western world was not from the political left, who spent a great deal of time preaching equality without ever practicing it, but the political right. Margaret Thatcher made those in the Conservative party that had gone before look positively pedestrian, and reduced many in the Labour party (women included) to hurling sexist comments at her in desperation. She was loathed by the opposition, the old guard of her own party and the establishment in almost equal measure; but she was a first.
It is one of the great political ironies of the early 21st century that the 1st black leader of the western world is not from the sophisticates of Europe, who still have a problem understanding equality, but of the 'dumb-ass' United States. A continent consisting of more than a dozen elected governments, many of whom in private (if not in public) have always looked down on their North American counterparts, has not once come close to achieving such a historic event; a continent that was no doubt prepared to ignore it's own history and proffer 'racist America' headlines had the Democrats failed to win.
Whilst much of Europe remains shackled to the core socialist belief that a (presumably benign) state is more important than the individual, America understands that to create true opportunity for all and thus for a nation to grow, individuals must be given the chance to excel. Barack Obama is that individual. Never has the phrase "Only in America" been more apt.