Being a Pastor during this election was really hard. Using Facebook as my guide, I think many of my church peeps voted for Trump, a few for Castle/McMullin/Johnson, and a couple for Clinton. I definitely don’t like talking politics at church. We got all week long to talk about all other things, and we are only together a few minutes on a Sunday morning and I want to stay focused on Christ and His Word. I guarantee many wanted me to say more. Probably some couldn’t believe I didn’t say more. I’ll be honest, I totally sat this one out. I only had 3 political posts all year – one in January talking about the landscape, one in August discussing the primaries, and one generic one talking about the biblical view of voting. That’s it. I consumed tons of information and have lots of opinions. I just saw only negatives to publically expressing my views. Think about it, whatever side you think is correct, I am only going to upset the other side (and they’re the ones who need to go to church to learn the most, right?) I also was trying to really listen to the different viewpoints. I did not like anyone this general election. I became very intrigued why my Christian brothers and sisters in Christ were voting for whom they were voting for. I definitely saw more negatives on why they could never vote for someone rather than who they wanted to vote for. Predictably, as we got closer, people started to post more of whom they were actually going to support. Now that we will have President Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton has lost (for probably the last time), the reactions have seemed stronger than usual. Part of me feels like this is just like every other time. Someone wins and someone loses, and those that lost think the world is over. I remember the rhetoric 4 years ago. Perhaps the difference is many of my millennial friends have lost for the first time, and they use social media like another appendage. They grew up with this stuff (I only had AOL chat rooms.) Maybe their expressions are more visceral and raw. They haven’t gone through losing an election before. No one cared about Bush v. Kerry and when old W. went against Al Gore my college students were just getting out of diapers. But maybe it is different this time. Trump is definitely different from other candidates. Some of those things are good, and some of those things are definitely bad. I find myself more confused than in past elections. In years past, that feeling might have been “anger” or maybe teetering on “hate.” But I’m only confused right now. Here’s why:
The two people I respected the most at the start of the election cycle 17 1½ years ago were Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz. They had clear, unique visions for how to solve some of the issues facing our country. They are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, but similarly Sanders and Cruz were certainly diametrically opposed to their opponents Clinton and Trump respectively. Sanders’ big kick was preventing corporations and banks from influencing government. (A-stinkin’-men) Cruz’s mantra was small government. Clinton is the biggest corporatist since the Rockefeller days and Trump is the biggest government Republican since Teddy Roosevelt split off to make the Bull Moose Party. But then, (pause for dramatic effect) both Sanders and Cruz endorsed their party’s candidate?!? Stand on your principles men! There are no principles in politics, only victories and losses.
We’re the fix. Politicians are not going to change on their own. Money is pouring into their hands by special interest groups. But public opinion matters. We went to war after 9/11 because people wanted to go to war. We’re getting out of all the wars because people want to get out. Politicians either change their opinion or we get a new politician the next election cycle. The politicians that have been in Washington for 30-some years have changed a ton over the years. They’ve changed to stay in power. As much as I can be disappointed by it, the truth is, the American people have changed to necessitate this.
2 Party System
Ugh, these two parties are terrible. If there were ever going to be a year for a 3rd party candidate to do well, this would be it. They are not viable; the whole system is against them. Honestly, if Clinton and Trump had lost to Sanders and Cruz (which was entirely possible) and they decided to run 3rd party, do you really think they both would have still gotten 48% of the vote. No way! You could maybe argue they would have gone above the 5% barrier of the Libertarian candidate, but not 48%. (The real thought experiment would be if Trump decided to run as a Democrat and tweaked his messaging a bit, it sounds crazy but I think he might have still won the nomination and would have done even better in the general because he would have had more media protection, but I’ll leave that up for a season 4 episode of Flash Point Paradox.) Everything from the media to our government revolves around the 2 party system. What are we supposed to do? They are soooo convoluted too. A democrat in the Farmlands is totally different from a democrat in a University. A republican in the Northeast is totally different than a republican in the South. Take a person who is pro-life when it comes to abortion, pro-life when it comes to animal cruelty, and pro-life when it comes to the death penalty. They have no party and whichever side they support would be at the expense of one of their beliefs. And there’s a billion other scenarios I could have laid out. The 2 parties are not representing their follower’s beliefs; they are shaping them. But they are not shaping them by making a convincing argument; they’re shaping them by demonizing the other side. The most disheartening exit polling I’ve seen, is that 4 out of 10 republicans and 4 out of 10 democrats believe the other side is extremely dangerous to this country. So 40% of Americans believe their neighbors across town are the reason to blame for the bad things that happen in this country. Holy Brainwashing Batman! I blame the horrible rhetoric, but I blame people for believing it more. People are genuinely afraid. I get it though, everyone who you listen to whether or TV, radio, or Internet has told you the horrible evils of the other side. I don’t know if you watched them, but I was personally horrified at Hilary Clinton’s, Donald Trump’s, and President Obama’s speeches the other day after the results. They were so nice and kind, humble and uniting. They were the most uplifting things I heard in months. They complimented their ideological opponents and stressed the greatness of America in that we can disagree and come together. I was horrified because they either are spewing absolute lies now, or they were spewing absolute lies during the election. Which is it? Look at history. Dems and the GOP tend to just take turns being President every 8 years. I think we are making America worse by spending Billions of dollars on election, dividing us up to hate people different than us, and then name calling the other side to shut-down discussion. All so we can alternate who gets elected?
Wait a few days, but have an actual sit-down with someone who voted for the other Party. Don’t do it on Facebook. Do it in person. Don’t share your opinion unless it’s asked. Ask for their opinion and then just listen. You might be surprised why they voted for whom they did. You might have some questions, but tread lightly, ask them respectfully, then go right back to listening. An example of a good way to ask a question would be: Does her stance on abortion bother you? Or does the language he used towards women concern you? Don’t ask the questions in a nasty way, for instance: How can you vote for someone who rips babies arms and legs off? Or How can you be a Christian parent and endorse sexual assault? You might think the answers to these questions are indefensible, but remember, this election, everyone had to compromise in weird ways. We all heard: How dare you not vote! A 3rd party vote is a vote for the other person! How could you vote for that person after such and such! We need to listen to each other. Which is totally different than giving someone else our opinions. I promise you, you will be surprised by why they bubbled in that person for President.
I have spent the last 24 hours+ reading saddening social media posts – everything revealing shock and depression to name calling and cursing to bragging and gloating. I read news stories on children bullying other children for their race (i.e. Trump’s fault) to a person being beaten up in a parking lot for a “Make America Great Again Hat” (i.e. Hillary’s fault.) Friendships are destroyed, people are afraid of retribution, and people are worried they’re going to be deported. There is so much hate and hurt out there. There’s way too much excusing of bad behavior. I remember the previous 2 elections well. Those that lost filled Facebook with fears and worries. It depends on who you listen to. Who is filling you with information? People that tell me, “they do their own research,” that’s a load of garbage. People go to websites they trust to get their news. Period. “Own research” Like they are putting in Freedom of Information Act requests to the government and going through redacted files. Please. Here’s the case and point. Depending on who you listen to, President Obama has either deported more Mexicans than any other person in history, or he has totally opened our borders and just lets anybody who wants to come here to come. What the heck? Donald Trump is either a misogynist that thinks women are inferior, or he hired a woman to be his campaign manager. Hillary Clinton is either a criminal mastermind who has had dozens of people murdered, or she’s an apologetic technical novice that made an error in judgment when it came to email protocol. Politicians are going to do and say whatever they want. I think there are too many criminals in politics and too much greed on Wall Street and too much hate in media, but We The People vote for it, buy from them, and consume everything they say. The worse part is we then participate in their evils on our own social media outlets.
I love the line in Men in Black where Will Smith asks Tommy Lee Jones why we don’t just tell everyone that aliens exist? Agent K responds with, “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.” We have to get back to person-to-person interactions. We have to begin to broaden our circles with a variety of opinions, political leanings, and cultural backgrounds. We are too homogenous. We have to stop participating in a system of hate. Open your mind and sources of information. I’ve noticed from both Obama and Trump supporters the same thing. They focus on what they like about them. They ignore what they don’t like. They didn’t/don’t believe he would do things they didn’t actually agree with (usually chocking it up to political posturing.) So you guys are pretty similar. You got your guy’s back and the opposing team vilifies them from the start. I am horrified at the way many opponents of President Obama have talked about him. I am sure I will be horrified at the way people talk about President Trump. (Did you know that Donald Trump got more votes from Women, African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians than any other Republican ever? (Obviously populations are going) But voting was way down this year.) We must stop waiting for the government to force us to “integrate” and choose to integrate ourselves. Stop waiting for the government to require healthcare and minimum wages and maternity leave or whatever else you want or believe in, and start doing it ourselves in our own business and lives as best as we are able. Be the change you want to see in the world. Just be the change you want to see for one other person. Philippians 2:4 says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
As Christians we have to stop separating our Christianity from our politics. Be one person all the time. Think about some of your policy beliefs and see if that matches Scripture. I promise you, you cannot be a Republican or a Democrat if you are honest. You can prioritize what you think is more important, and thus vote. And I promise there will be millions of Christians who vote differently than you and that’s ok. Our Kingdom is not of this world. Jesus Christ and His Heaven are perfect, and everything else on this earth are poor, poor shadows. Do Good while in this world, the best way you know how. Stand with people and not with policy. Spread the Good News of Jesus Christ with this lost and dying world. Let everything else fall where it may.
P.s. Don’t tell me to run for some kind of office. I could never run for office, because I generally like people. My campaign speech would be like, “I like my opponent, we just ate at Applebees and had a great time. We view some things pretty differently, but when we really talked in through, I understand his point of view and respect it. But vote for me because I think my solutions are slightly better.” I doubt I get elected, especially if the other guy calls me a bunch of names.