Election Day, Nov. 4, 2008, has come and gone, and the people have spoken: Barrack Obama will be the next president of the United States of America.
This was a monumental election in many ways. For students here at Linfield, this was the first presidential election most of us have ever had the chance to vote in. Regardless of whether your pick came out on top, your vote was counted, and you will remember this for the rest of your life.
Family, friends, faculty and staff, you may have gotten to vote in other historic elections, such as the 2004 Bush-Gore contest or even the Kennedy-Nixon election of 1960. The number of eligible voters that cast their ballots this year was extraordinary, coming in at about 62.5 percent, but didn’t quite reach the record set in the 1960 presidential race of 63.8 percent, according to a recent MSNBC article.
What did break records was the youth vote. CIRCLE, a non-partisan political organization, estimates that 24 million Americans ages 18-29 voted this year, which was about 2.2 million more than in the last presidential election. According to CNN, 10 times as many people
voted during the sixth season of American Idol than in the 2004 election. Luckily, Americans seem to have sorted out their priorities because a democracy doesn’t work unless people raise their voices or fill out their ballots. When no one says anything—that’s when we start going down. Participation is the key.
Although the election is done, the involvement by regular people in the political process has only begun. It is the beginning of a new era. Ahead we have a bigger task than campaigning for one candidate; we now have to unite and learn to work together.
Being divided does not work. Our founding fathers aimed to form a union, and that’s why they wrote in the Constitution, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice…”
More than 100 years ago our country adopted its Pledge of Allegiance, which states, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation under God, indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for all.” We have pledged to be indivisible.
Now that we have our president-elect, we cannot expect to stand back and watch him fix all of our problems—he’s just one man. Whether you are a member of the Republican Party, Democratic Party, Libertarian Party, Constitution Party, Green Party or are an Independent, you are an American citizen. If you don’t like a law or current governmental practice, speak up: write a letter, stage a protest, hold a rally, make a sign or simply start up a conversation.
Our future president breaks the traditional mold of those who have come before him, and we can only imagine what is to come. Don’t be afraid to break the mold yourself and be part of the future.