Here’s some further processing about election results and what “forward” looks like. This is for the conversation, not for partisanship.
A friend posted on Facebook about the protests happening in several cities last night. This is my response to him, but expanded and adapted for this forum.
1. I’m not terribly surprised that there are protests.
Over half the population of this country is disappointed in the results of this election, despite DJT’s sweeping victory in the Electoral College. I read an article about a militia in Georgia and one other place preparing to “defend the Constitution” if Clinton were elected. I don’t believe they actually would have done anything that drastic, I do believe we would have seen protests of some sort.
I think both nominees were selected in bad faith. Clinton, because people thought we needed an heir apparent when we really needed a true contest — in their hearts, people knew that she was likely unelectable even though they were right that she had the experience. Trump, because people were angry and he was yelling for them (and I get that, he yelled some for me too), but what we really needed from the GOP was a candidate who espoused conservative values in a contest where true conservatives had Play-Doh for personalities.
2. Because of this, I say that this election really wasn’t as much about politics as it was about being heard and valued.
This is why we have a GOP candidate who isn’t by any means conservative as the President Elect being lifted up by the most conservative people in the nation. I’ve described it as a middle finger or a molotov cocktail, but listening with a kind ear, this is “LISTEN TO US”.
There are segments of the population who feel they haven’t been truly represented in a long time. They’re people who feel flown over and disrespected, and for good reason. They’re people who feel that their vision of America is slipping away — and they’re right, because America is changing.
It’s less white and less closeted (thank God for both). Less industrial and more service oriented; less rural minded and more corporately minded. There are some ways in which this nation is changing that are good, some that are bad. The fact is that this nation is always changing and there’s no way to hold on to the past.
I’ve heard people divide “them” up and call these people names. I’ve joined in speculating about who those people are, I’m human. Though the categories do matter to gain understanding about why DJT or why Clinton, we don’t need the demographics to know who these people are who would elect a Trump or a Clinton or 3rd party candidates.
The fact is that I know these people, we all do.
They’re my family; they’re my friends; they’re members of the congregation I served; they’re people in the synod I serve; they’re Americans. I love these people, I argue with these people, I serve with these people, I pray for these people.
Moreover, supporters of the candidates aren’t “these people”, they’re us. As long as we subscribe to the divisions, we do the work of division ourselves and we don’t need foreign interlopers to rip us apart. This is why I speak against prejudice and speak in favor of my friends who are African American, Latino/a, LGBTQ, and so on. It’s not because I don’t value people who aren’t in these groups, but WE who are white and straight have always fit the mold of this culture. WE need to break this mold before it breaks us all as it’s already breaking the black bodies piling up as casualties of the war that WE are perpetuating by clinging to our privilege, and consequentially denying our black brothers their rights and their lives; denying our brothers and sisters their right to live their lives according to their values in the way that we’re able to live our lives according to ours.
Putin was smirking while talking about the election, not because we elected Trump, but because he recognizes the advantage he has when we’re this deeply divided. (I admit it, I’m a child of the last gasps of the Cold War so the Russians are my go-to example.)
If we really do love America, we’ll stop trying to legislate each other out of existence.
3. This deep division in the nation reminds me of what I see in congregations.
There are people who want to preserve what is and honor what was at all costs.
There are people who want to push into the new with no regard for history because they’re so future minded that they forget how important our roots are.
There are those who are in the middle who just want to see their congregations thrive and are willing to do what they see as reasonable to make that happen — which I believe is actually the largest group.
We all **need** all three groups. The conservatives to ground us, the progressives to push us to be aspirational, the moderates to help us discern which way the pendulum is swinging.
I think this is true of America. No group wants to tank the nation, despite what others might accuse them of, we just have different opinions about what our job is as a society. In congregations and societies, this is a crucial and difficult tango in a highly individualistic era during which everyone thinks their role is the most important, or at least that they’re the lead partner.
4. This election is a breach of trust on both sides.
The trouble is that we’re dancing together. You can’t tango alone. We aren’t adversaries, we’re partners; not individuals, but community. When one side nominates a generic crooked politician and the other side nominates an egomaniacal man-child, we’ve both broken the trust.
So the question I wrestle with is, “how do we stand in this breach *together* when we’re all still angry?”.
I’m struggling. As a young man said at a youth event last weekend, “I’m shook”. I think most of us are, whether we won or lost in this latest election.
Now that the fever is ending and we look at the medicine we have to take, how can we be “us”?
How do we restore, and in some cases establish, the trust so that we can be One Nation?