Decision Day plus seven
"I see a colorful future
Where skin don't define any human
And stars are the only thing shooting
Mothers who bury their child
How can we sit there and hide
Change comes when all take a stand now
- "Powerful," Empire
It's been a week since the aftermath of the 2016 election. I remember thinking prior to the election how glad I would be when November 8, 2016, finally arrived. I thought the election talk, which had dominated everything for 18 months, would be over.
Then election night came. In the wake of the surprise victory by Donald Trump, the election talk has only increased. There's been outrage on both sides. There's been vitriol on both sides. And it doesn't seem like it's going to end any time soon. It almost made me yearn for the mud slinging of the campaign trail in mid-August.
But I've been reading a lot, listening to a lot, and thinking a lot about what happened, and what may happen. It's clear to me there's a lot of hurt and anger on both sides, but the thing is I think it's been that way for a decade. The question is where we go from here.
I've been firmly convinced for months that whoever won the election on November 8, the loser would be America and the American people. I still feel that way. It hasn't changed. I couldn't in good conscience come up with a reason to vote for either major party candidate — or the two major third party candidates, for that matter — so for the first time in my voting life I wrote in a candidate, John Elway. In my opinion, neither major party candidate was worthy of the office. I could be wrong, but that's how I felt, and it's how I feel.
In the wake of the election, I've reflected and come up with a few thoughts.
First, Hillary Clinton ran a terrible campaign. I think part of it was probably the idea that no one in their right mind would choose Donald Trump over her. What she failed to take into consideration is that giving people something to vote for is more powerful than giving people something to vote against. She had more money, vastly more experience, and a big lead. And she squandered them all.
Second, I don't think this is a referendum on women in leadership. It's a referendum on this woman in leadership. It reminds me of a scene I loved from the HBO comedy "VEEP," where an exasperated Chief of Staff yells at the President (Julia Louis Dreyfuss) for ruining the possibility of women being president in the future because, "we tried it and it f+++ing sucked." I think there was a little of that feeling with Hillary, who is a flawed candidate.
Third, I don't think enough was done by the swell of Barack Obama supporters, or Obama's administration, to bring unity to the country. I remember watching a disturbing documentary after the 2008 election called "Right Feeling Wronged." In it, despite the character and pleas of John McCain, many right wing supporters, especially in the south, espoused some extremely hateful and negative views. That sentiment has only grown over the last eight years, and it was that group, and that sentiment, that dominated at the polls on November 8. It was that group that turned out en mass to vote.
Finally, we get the government we deserve. I don't think the sky is falling, but I'll admit that my ethnicity and cultural background probably don't make me as much of a target, thus I can't identify fully with all those who are hurting or espousing fear. But I think we've seen this calamity coming because of the deep divides in this country. When I looked at the results, it was so much the candidate that stuck out as the demographics. When you have 90 percent of any socioethnic category voting for one candidate in an election that's this evenly split, it tells you we have deep divides. It's a divide that's been there for a while, but it's growing and it must be overcome.
What is interesting is both sides of the divide feel like they've been wronged. Both feel like the system has failed them and they've been victimized by decisions made by those in power. It's hard to believe that can be true of everyone in this country, yet that seems to be what so many are feeling. So where's the disconnect? How do we overcome that.
Worse yet, I saw 85 percent of those who identify themselves as Evangelical Christians voted for Trump. The association made on the news is that, in the near term, Donald Trump represents everything it means to be a Christian in America. That makes me want to weep, and it should for all people of faith. Because if we know anything for sure about Trump, it's that his words and actions fall far short of the example we're given in Jesus.
So what can we do? Where do we go from here?
First, I'd say we need to focus on coming together as a people. We can spend all our energy fighting about our government and campaigning, but that won't change the underlying problem. I take comfort in the idea that, as currently deployed, the Executive Branch is the weakest branch of our government. Trump has already walked back some of his campaign talk and, frankly, I'm not at all confident he will get much done in his four-year term. But what we can get done, as a country, is work to bridge what divides us. If we're waiting for the President to do that, it's going to be a long wait. It has to be the citizens coming together and openly sharing ideas and view points. It requires patience, understanding, and listening. Are we capable of that as a nation? It's sometimes hard to believe, but I think that's what we have to work toward.
Second, we need to dial down the rhetoric — on both sides. All I've seen this last week is angry accusations and angry defenses. It's all angry, and all coming from a place of wanting to prove we're right. What does that solve? As far as I can tell people have retreated to even more intractable positions, which doesn't do anything for the long-term problem. Instead of passing a petition to abolish the Electoral College, why can't we talk about why 90 percent of older white males voted for one candidate and feared the other, while 90 percent of African Americans voted for the other candidate for the same reasons. Fear and hate were the driving motivations on November 8, 2016, and we need to work hard to be sure that never happens again.
Finally, we need to remember who is really in control. We see through a glass darkly. We don't see the full picture. We don't understand what is happening or why. But we often react like we see the full picture and, worse yet, like we're in control. We aren't. And, fortunately, Donald Trump isn't either. He's a man. He's our elected leader. But he's not the savior for our country or our world. We have the power, and that power is a direct line to the person who is in control. And that is the answer to solving a lot of these other issues, too.
"If my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." — 2 Chronicles 7:14