Six years ago today I was in Afghanistan learning that I had lost a campaign for the Oregon State Senate. It was an interesting irony that took time – and the support of family, friends, and fellow travelers to reconcile.
And now, thinking about this November 7th – the day after an historic election campaign that saw Barack Obama returned to office, a blended Congress, and a Democratic Majority in the Oregon House of Representatives – I cannot help but smile.
Today is a new beginning for America, for our Oregon.
The wars I fought in: Iraq and Afghanistan are in very different phases than six years ago. Iraq is over, and Afghanistan will end about the time of my mandatory retirement from the Oregon Air National Guard (2014).
There is optimism about the future that we can either seize upon or ignore, but we cannot deny. This election was about a changing America at least as much as it was about any particular candidate or party.
It was also a statement: we are a nation in search of a unifying mission – a national purpose.
America in 2012 is a multicultural society struggling to realize the ideals embedded in our most cherished secular documents.
We came together, made a series of important decisions, and did so without bloodshed or bullets – this is a treasure we must not squander.
Today should not be about wild celebrations – or even – recriminations for things fallen candidates should have done. Rather, today should be about what we can – and must – do together, now.
The elections are over. We have a President-Elect, a Congress, statewide officers, and a new Oregon Legislature. The necessary division associated with times of election is now past – thank God.
It will take time for wounds to heal, for largely artificial divisions to be smoothed over. For good or ill, we just don’t have time for the human aspects of what is the spectacle of modern American campaigns.
We have work to do, and little time to get it accomplished.
Now is the time when all good men and women come to the aid of their communities. It is a moment in time when we can rally around the concepts that matter most.
A Safe Environment
Protection of our Basic Rights
Providing in the Present, Providing for the Future
We agree on 85% of the most fundamental policies required to rebuild our Oregon into the most amazing, sustainable, most civic-centric state in the Union. We all want strong schools, safe neighborhoods, partnerships for industrial development that promote innovation, responsibility, and technologies for the future.
And we all want a state government to function – for the benefit of the many, the few, and the one.
This is our moment. Whether your candidate/s lost or whether they won, they made the process better for their involvement. And now – all of us can pull together in the same direction.
Pick up the phone, write a letter, and seek out the folks that will be carrying the burdens of leadership. Request legislation be drafted, demand public attention on the issues and items you know are important for our Oregon, for our neighborhoods.
Remind them that the campaign was the warm-up: the real work begins today – the real work of rebuilding Oregon starts now – the real work of reform is neither inherently Democratic nor Republican, but the duty of a citizen blessed with living in our Oregon.
Demand leadership, explain our requirements for success, and encourage the men and women we now place our trust in to perform – our Oregon depends upon it.