November 16, 2016

Election Lamentations

When it became clear that the Republican candidate won the election, I turned my Facebook cover and profile picture black to express my deep lament over the choice the American people had made.  Many people misunderstand the many reasons for my lament and to be honest, I am writing them down as much to help me understand my own emotions as to explain them to others.  I lament because it seems the voters made one or more of the following reason as a basis of their presidential preference:
  1. The cult of personality was chosen rather than leadership.  This became obvious when both candidates were nominated.  It was a much a problem with the Democratic party who seemed to put the desires of the one or few over the desires of the many via "super delegates""  It happened in the Republican party as the many decided to support a personality over someone with skills in diplomacy, any experience in government, and knowledge of the Constitution.
  2. People have chosen a savior rather than a leader.  Many people will most likely dispute this point, both Christians who say they already have one and Atheists who say they don't need one, but hear me out:  when we look to any one person as the one person who can solve our problems and difficulties, we place that person as our functional savior.   This is as true for those who think a female president is a solution*  as it is for those who think a billionaire bully is.  And it is especially true for those Christians who mistakenly believe that God's greatness is somehow linked to America's greatness or certain laws being enacted or the "right" Supreme Court Justices being elected.  All this thinking is functional disbelief--not trusting that The God who overcame Pharoh can overcome *insert social issue here* without help from the government.  
  3. People have chosen ideology over character.  Some people voted Republican or Democrat because they have always voted that way (Traditiooooon!  Tradition!)  Some people on the Republican side were so focused on the abortion issue and the current and potential Supreme Court vacancies as their reason for voting, that many overlooked the fact that the Republican candidate is  an unrepentant adulterer, a self-proclaimed molester of women, a greedy and unscrupulous businessman, a traitorous tax-evader, and arrogant bully.  This is especially egregious for the Republicans who castigated Bill Clinton for his presidential philandering and derided his supporters' claims that private life doesn't affect public service.  Furthermore, during his campaign, the President-Elect demonstrated an unwillingness to listen to good counsel (slow to listen), quick to speak and quick to become angry at anyone who disagreed with him, often carrying it into an extended Twitter brawl, making a bad situation worse.  And my heart is especially broken over the fact that some of my brothers and sisters in Christ made that decision.  To be sure, the Democratic candidate also has character issues.  My biggest problem with her character was that on several occasions, she lied and tried to cover up wrong-doing, whether it involved a White House intern or emails.  And she didn't seem to learn from the consequences of her first boss, Nixon, that truth is difficult to suppress or cover up.  Her maneuverings in the last four years to set up a nomination system to ensure her as Democratic candidate also seems self-serving.  Her main advantage over the President-elect, however, is that, because of her experience in government, her ideas had some grounding in reality, even if you disagreed with them.
  4. People have chosen fantasy over reality.  Sure the President-Elect was on a reality TV show, but we all know that it is merely TV real, not really real.  And his campaign was based on empty promises of greatness at the expense of others.  Furthermore, people were living vicariously through his displays of crass, disrespectful, unkind, nasty rhetoric (I am using the word loosely) because, deep down, we would love to be able to tell off, ridicule, and speak exactly what is on our mind with no repercussions.  Posts and comments I see on Facebook testify that people are living the fantasy.  Unfortunately, folks, the reality is that there are ALWAYS repercussions. God designed life to be that way.  Furthermore, even the President-elect's ideas and the "facts" (also used loosely) he stated during his campaign were mainly un-researched opinions that played well to the masses.  Several sources during the debates put him in the "pants on fire" range for truth.  And, finally, thinking that complex problems can be solved by simple, finger-pointing, sound-biting solutions is also a fantasy. 
  5. People have chosen to let fear rule them.  Republicans were afraid about the potential Supreme Court vacancies, ISIS, China, Syrian refugees, Mexican immigrants, not being great, being run by a woman, Bill Clinton in the White House again (okay, I was worried for the women working there), the media, rigged elections, abortions, Russia, Muslims and probably a few more that I forgot.  Hillary focused on one fear--the spectre of President Trump, which was also bad.  The problem with fear is that it replaces rational thinking with knee-jerk responses and will lead a nation to give up its rights in return for its safety. As someone who has been battling fears for decades, I have ample experience with the repercussions of fear-based decisions.  And politicians have used fear in the past to perpetrate all sorts of atrocities.  And as Christians, we are supposed to be fearless, trusting in God to provide what we need.  
* Though there is no one tribe, or gender  that can save us, our country will be its best when all of the cultures, religions, and both genders are represented in Congress, the Supreme Court, and in the White House.
I have one more reason for my lamentation.  The president-elect spent most of his campaign setting up as scapegoats Mexicans, Chinese, and Muslims living in America, encouraging hatred and disrespect of these people who are equally made in the image of God as I am.  He is willing to sacrifice these people's peace, livelihood, and right to be innocent until proven guilty at the altar of American power.  I have many friends who have experienced racial epitaths and slurs hurled at them thanks to the feckless speeches of the President-elect and who wonder what the future holds for their children in a society that doesn't feel the need for social restraint and that doesn't value them as human beings.  And for those of you who have told me "Its only the illegals who have to worry," I will remind you  that this man questioned President Obama's citizenship for about eight  years even though the President produced it sometime in his first term.  He also proposed to kill not only terrorists, but their families, too, a violation of the Geneva Convention.  So, yes, I can see him creating a posse of thugs who don't care about no stinkin' documentation and throw the (insert racial slur here) out, even possibly getting rich off  the stuff left behind, a la Andrew Jackson.

Yes, I lament for how far my country, which I love wholeheartedly has fallen from ideals of being "the land of the free and the home of the brave," but I am not dismayed.  For one thing, God is on His throne.  He chooses and removes leaders.  God is faithful and good.  God loves and cares for His world and everyone in it.  Therefore, the current president-elect is for our good (and by good, I mean the "good for you" good which is not the same as the "pleasant" good) and for His glory.  And if God can turn Nebuchadnezzer, Naaman and Paul, to name a few bullies, into believers, then He can do the same with the President residing in the White House for the next four years.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6:34

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”  Mark 10:27

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