Tonight’s election is not the end of the road

Tonight the campaigns and issues that have dominated Oregon and the United States over the last two years will come to an end, but hopefully the awareness they have helped create will not disappear so quickly.

It’s hard to believe that a mere two years ago gay marriage was a blip on the political radar, Saddam Hussein still lived in a palace in Baghdad, Dan Rather was a respected broadcaster and flip-flops were just hip footwear.

Way back in 2000, even the savviest of Oregonians couldn’t have predicted the various issues that dominate today’s campaign, but more voters turned out to vote than in any previous Oregon election, with nearly 80 percent of registered voters sending in their ballots. This year, thanks to the high number of early returns, Oregon is on pace to destroy those records en route to what figures to be one of the highest turnout rates in the country.

Thanks to the determined efforts of statewide registration efforts and the passion inspired by the races and issues on this year’s ballot, overall registration in Oregon should pass the 2 million mark for the first time in history.

Whether attending or hosting a candidate party, going door-to-door for a favorite candidate, phonebanking, vote mobbing, putting a sign in the yard or simply just voting, Oregonians on both sides of the red/blue divide have taken to speaking their minds with a passion.

For thousands, the 2004 election has served as an introduction to what it is to be an informed voter. For thousands more, the election has reawakened a dormant appreciation of why participating in the election process is important.

Regardless of the outcomes, we urge you to view tonight’s election as more than the culmination of two years of relentless campaigning. We urge you to view tonight’s election as the first step in the longer process of healing the substantial divisions that the lengthy campaign process has revealed and in many cases exacerbated.

When you wake up tomorrow morning a lot will have changed, some not to your liking. Instead of triumphing in victory or wallowing in defeat, stay involved to help determine the future of the country.