Wherever you found yourself at 9 p.m. on Nov. 4, 2008, it’s worth remembering that place and time. Many Indy editorial staffers chose the Badlander among the throng of Missoula election night party venues, and it certainly proved a telling spot to witness the conclusion of this historic contest.

For an election that focused—perhaps for the first time since 1992—on the youth vote, the concentrated reaction among younger voters of President-elect Barack Obama’s victory told more than this column can express. Disappointed McCain supporters might reply to that sentiment with scorn, but consider the circumstances: the staggering disappointment of 2000 and the subsequent calamity of 2004. Consider the controversy surrounding both, and imagine an eight-year cloud of cynicism accumulating over, say, a 26-year-old with those elections defining his/her political adulthood. Then imagine it all dissipate in a single evening.

Among the cheers of the Obama vanguard and the relieved expressions of Democratic veterans, the quiet, misty-eyed approval of thick-skinned youth seemed more relevant. Hope, as a mere word, is simply a component of a campaign slogan, but a renewed faith in democracy is a concept beyond its simple vernacular construct.

On that note, we want to congratulate new county commissioner Michele Landquist, whose grassroots campaign overcame favored candidates on both sides of the aisle. We also applaud voters’ recognition of the importance of the county’s proposed Emergency Operations Center, even though they narrowly decided that the expenditure would better serve a later electorate. Finally, we’re pleased to characterize renewal of the 6-mill levy as a show of support for higher education in Montana.

On the vote for statewide seats, things were more predictable. Gov. Brian Schweitzer again proved himself a better representative of Montana ideals than any of his recent predecessors, despite personal and political idiosyncrasies. We hope another returnee, Rep. Denny Rehberg, will ultimately take a cue from his relatively unimpressive margin and open his mind to the state’s newfound demand for progressive ideals.

Sen. Max Baucus, meanwhile, can keep the earmarks flowing in.

At last, we’re disappointed with the decisions of Florida, Arizona and California to restrict the marriage rights of their homosexual citizens—in the final case, revoking those rights. However, we’re confident that perception will change and decidedly more assured than before that the democratic process will ultimately allow for that transition. ?
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