End-the-war energy fueled the success of “Bring Our Troops Home” ballot initiatives in communities throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Massachusetts on Tuesday.

In Wisconsin, voters supported the initiatives by a margin of more than two-to-one. In Illinois, even counties that were won by George Bush in 2004 voted to bring the troops home. And in Massachusetts, 36 legislative districts – representing 139 communities – voted on a resolution to “end the war in Iraq immediately and bring all United States military forces home.” All 36 districts voted in the affirmative.

Not only did voters support explicit peace initiatives such as these, but they also came out in droves to vote for candidates who promised to bring our troops home.

“I don’t think the voters could make themselves any clearer,” said Steve Burns, Program Coordinator for the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice. “The voters get it – they know that the best thing for the American people and the Iraqi people is for us to bring our troops home from their country. Now it’s time for our government to listen.”

But getting our governent to listen will be no mean feat.

Tom Hayden suggests in a post today, “The Administration will continue the conflict into the 2008 election year…. The peace movement therefore needs to gear up for the 2008 elections, by establishing anti-war coalitions that no candidate can avoid in the primary states. The first four states – Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina – have large peace-and-justice constituencies.”

Despite the clear verdict on Tuesday – that democrats, independents and many republicans want this disastrous war to end –and end now – many would-be leaders in both parties will shrink from the challenge of ending the bloodletting.

When these would-be leaders stand down, we must continue to stand up for peace.