Well folks, Election 2004 is over and done with. For a time it seemed like the moment of decision would never come, but come it did, and with a thrill that will linger with us for many years to come.

The tireless and committed work of many culminated in an exciting and close election. Many students on this campus devoted hours upon hours making phone calls, going door-to-door, and registering new voters in the weeks leading up to Tuesday's decision. There was remarkable zeal and dedication on both sides. While we have often pointed out that at times the rhetoric between the two sides grew so heated as to be counterproductive, we have only praise for those organizations and individuals who have raised the level of political and social awareness at Bowdoin and beyond.

We hope and trust this is not the end of something so good and something so desperately needed. The election season ended on November 2, but the problems facing America, and young Americans in particular, remain as pressing as before. We desire to see the current level of political engagement continue. All of us stand to learn more in the coming weeks and months if we do not let this passion fade, and the Orient is proud and eager to serve as a forum for constructive debate on the issues of the day.

It is a stubborn and unfortunate fact that only one side can win an election. Many students and faculty at Bowdoin supported John Kerry and are understandably disappointed with the outcome. For these people the frustration with the result is amplified by the message attached: that, for many Americans, moral values are intimately tied to politics.

Colleges are known for championing progressive causes, and many students and faculty are proud of their efforts in highlighting issues that are often neglected outside the somewhat insulated world of college life. But today many are struggling to accept a wider world that does not, on the surface, share this calling: on campus, individuals' values are subordinated to a growing social awareness, while in society as a whole these same values are becoming increasingly elevated to the realm of political and social policy.

Like it or not, the latter world is the one that awaits the college graduate. Despite the frustration, the proper reaction is not to dismiss those who strongly adhere to their personal values as stupid or ignorant. In fact, such a reaction is contrary to the very mission of a liberal arts education: in a word, openness. And in more pragmatic terms, a divided nation cannot be unified by the out-of-hand dismissal of a significant emerging force in politics. It is easy to deride them from the comfortable terrain of the Ivory Tower; such an attitude will win few friends most other places.