Post-Election Thoughts

I haven’t written here in a long time. I’ve been busy. Part of me wasn’t sure if I would ever return to this blog, for which I once had such fervor. But after watching 18 months’ worth of racial and political tension come to a head on Tuesday night, I just had to get some things off my chest in an organized, hopefully thoughtful and God-honoring manner.

Before I start, I feel the need to preface this by clarifying that I am not a full-on Hillary supporter. I disagree with her on a number of things, and she has a questionable past to say the least. There is no doubt in my mind that she was (and is) significantly more qualified for the job than the guy who won — which is why I voted for her — but she was not my ideal candidate by any means. So if you plan on responding to this post with some variation of “But what about Crooked Hillary and her dang e-mails?!“, don’t waste your time.

I would also like to say that I love and respect my brothers and sisters in Christ who voted for Trump, even though I disagree with them. I would never be so bold and reckless as to question one’s salvation or end a friendship based on their support of any given candidate. My intention is not to cause division based on our political views, but to call for greater empathy and unity to be displayed within the Body of Christ. I am truly writing this from a place of genuine love for Christ and the Church and out of a desire to see positive change begin to take place. But first, I do have to get out a little bit of my anger and confusion, so please bear with me.

Donald Trump

At this point, there is nothing I can say about Donald Trump that hasn’t already been made abundantly clear by his very own words and actions. But here are a few examples of things that made it impossible for me to even consider voting for him.

First of all — and I feel like this has been overlooked thanks to his many other flaws — Donald Trump is a bully. He has consistently put down everyone in his path, making fun of physical appearance, intelligence, and just about everything else. Every single debate was made unwatchable by his inability to let anyone else speak, along with his insistence on asserting his dominance over his opponents. You can’t have a productive conversation with someone whose only goal is to make you feel bad about yourself. Beyond the debates, Trump mocked disabled people and war heroes, and then denied that he really did it. This man is a bully, plain and simple. And the only people who enjoy watching bullies win are other bullies. The rest of us are left feeling small and insecure.

Secondly, the hatred and bigotry at the heart of Trump’s campaign is appalling. He built his entire campaign on white supremacy, misogyny, and xenophobia. And he won. That’s the country we’re living in. Trump was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan. He encouraged violence against Black Lives Matter protesters at his rallies. He infamously kicked off his entire campaign by calling Mexicans rapists. He has repeatedly judged women by their physical appearance alone. He was caught on tape saying he likes to grab women by the pussy. (And if you’re a Trump supporter who’s offended that I just typed that word, I find it impossible to believe you can’t see the irony in that.) Rather than apologizing and repenting, he defended his words as mere “locker room talk,” when in reality, it was bragging about sexual assault. He also admitted to walking in on half-naked teenagers in the dressing rooms at his beauty pageants. He has been publicly accused by at least 12 women of the very thing which he already admitted to and bragged about, but he got away with it after denying it and calling the women liars. Another woman pressed charges against Trump for allegedly having raped her when she was 13 years old, but dropped the lawsuit after receiving numerous death threats from his supporters. Trump’s dangerous brand of nationalism has called for a ban of Muslims entering the country, the deportation of millions of immigrants, and the construction of a “beautiful” wall along the Mexican border. I could go on and on, but the fact that Trump is a racist and a sexual predator is no secret.

But should Trump’s moral deficiencies really disqualify him from the presidency? Well, yes, they should. But for many, it was his policies, not his character, that made him a candidate worth supporting. The thing about that is, he has no political experience whatsoever. He is a successful businessman, sure. I mean, his companies have declared bankruptcy four times, and he never did release his tax returns, but still. He’s rich. But beyond that, he really has no idea what he’s doing. He’s barely capable of putting together complete sentences about anything, let alone an actual plan for his presidency. The majority of his campaign speeches consisted of some combination of “We’re gonna build a big, beautiful wall,” “Crooked Hillary is so corrupt,” “I have a very good brain,” and “Make America Great Again.” The few times that he actually said something of substance, it wasn’t much better. He made it very clear that he is extremely serious about deporting undocumented immigrants in this country, which poses a legitimate existential threat to millions of people. He also plans to enact a nationwide stop-and-frisk policy, which will only create more racial tension in America. He proposes a trickle-down economic plan, which will continue the American tradition of the rich getting richer and the poor getting neglected and dehumanized. None of us know what Trump will actually be able to accomplish during his time in office, but we know from the start that he is seeking to divide the country and establish his all-encompassing worldview of white supremacy.

When I think about everything that Trump has said and done, I have to wonder why so many Christians were still willing to support him. I have many friends and family members who voted for him, and they are not racists or sexists. They don’t possess even a fraction of the hatred and sliminess that Trump exudes. But they were willing to overlook —  and even sometimes attempt to justify — his reprehensible character. Why? The most common reason I have heard is that he claims to be pro-life, and would appoint the conservative Supreme Court justices necessary to overturn Roe v. Wade. I completely understand where they are coming from, and I can’t judge them for it at all. I am pro-life, and I believe that standing up for the sanctity of human life is a Gospel issue worth fighting for. However, Trump has changed his position on abortion multiple times over the years. If he had decided to run as a democrat, he would have promised everyone that he was the most pro-choice candidate we’ve ever seen, bigly. But he knows that Republicans are against abortion, and so he told us that he is too. That strategy surprisingly worked really well for him, as dozens of prominent evangelical leaders publicly endorsed him. No sane person could ever make the argument that Trump genuinely cares about the sanctity of human life. And yet here we are.

What “Pro-Life” Actually Means

As I sat back and watched a bunch of otherwise very intelligent, compassionate, Christ-like people announce their support for this man because he is “pro-life,” I came to the realization that these people have a very different, more limited definition of that phrase than I do. To Trump supporters, “pro-life” means “anti-abortion,” and nothing more. Trump doesn’t care about women (which, I can’t help but wonder if he actually is against abortion, for the sole reason that he gets to tell women what they can and can’t do… but I digress…), minorities, the poor, the sick, or the oppressed. Even if he truly does want to protect the unborn, he doesn’t give a you-know-what about lives outside the womb. That is not pro-life. If you don’t feel the same outrage when police officers get away with beating and murdering unarmed African Americans as you do when you hear about abortion, you are not pro-life. If you respond to the refugee crisis with a stubborn spirit of exclusivism, rather than open-armed compassion, you are not pro-life. You’re just anti-abortion. And again I say, abortion is an important issue. Don’t stay silent about it. But don’t fall into the (white) American evangelical trap of thinking it’s the only issue worth caring about. Beyond just abortion, we have a responsibility as Christians in a fallen world to serve the poor and defend the oppressed. Social justice is not some liberal agenda; it is an implication of the Gospel. Just as Jesus healed the sick and cared for the marginalized, so we are called to have empathy for the downtrodden and actively fight against injustice. You don’t have to choose between social justice and the Gospel. We serve those in need so that we can share the eternal hope that is found only in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you don’t consider that to fall under the category of “pro-life,” then I would ask that for clarity’s sake, you simply refer to yourself as “anti-abortion.”

And that is just for people who only reluctantly voted for him because they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for an extremely pro-choice candidate in Hillary Clinton. I sympathize with you, and I understand your position. And the fact that these two were presented to us as our only options exposes the brokenness of our political binary. But when I look to those who enthusiastically supported Trump, and even tried to argue that he is a righteous, godly man, I am deeply disturbed and discouraged about the future of the American church.

My Immediate Response

Throughout the campaign, I was repeatedly assured by the media that Trump had no chance of winning the election. Admittedly, I sat safely in my progressive “bubble” on the Internet, as I follow many comedians, musicians, activists, and media outlets that lean left. And the vast majority of the Christian artists, writers, and pastors that I follow had also vocally expressed their disdain for the things that Trump represents. So while I was aware that Trump had a rowdy following, I mostly viewed his campaign as a big joke that would not actually result in his victory.

On Tuesday, as I flipped back and forth between CNN, Fox, and Stephen Colbert and Chris Gethard’s election coverage, and the results began to suggest that a Trump win was not only possible, but likely, my heart sank. “How could this possibly happen?,” I wondered. My shock soon turned into anger, and then fear, and then real, genuine sadness. I woke up the next morning and immediately checked to see if it was really true. And it was. I was depressed all day Wednesday. I didn’t feel like talking to anyone or doing anything. I just laid in bed and wondered how we as a country could have let this monster win. This wasn’t a matter of “my candidate” losing; it was depressing to see such an unashamedly evil man come out on top. Lots of people didn’t like Bush and Obama, but this is undeniably different. I scrolled endlessly through my social media feeds, and everyone I followed was feeling the same way. I saw tons of stories about unspeakably hateful things being said and done in the name of Trump. That was what scared me the most. I have no idea what kind of president he will actually turn out to be, but his campaign once again legitimized and normalized explicit racism and misogyny in the mainstream. Many who once kept these feelings to themselves in order to be “politically correct” now have a leader who is just like them, and by electing him president, America has basically said that all of it is okay.

I prayed for the millions of Americans who now feel unsafe going about their daily lives due to the message of Trump and his supporters. I prayed for the Church, that we could overcome the embarrassment of having widely supported this man and get back to making disciples. I could not yet bring myself to pray for Donald Trump. I was still too angry. Wednesday evening, I went to my church to volunteer at an after-school program and preach the Gospel to the youth group. If I’m being honest, I didn’t feel like being there. Walking in the church and hearing two older white men giddily saying, “Well, we kept her out of the White House! Now we just gotta throw her in prison!” didn’t help. I felt sick to my stomach, and at that moment I did not want anything to do with anyone who could celebrate the fact that Trump was going to be our next president. The profound lack of empathy among the vast majority of white Americans — even in the Church — became abundantly clear to me. I know the history of this country, and I have become increasingly aware of the racial divide that exists here as I have seen the stubborn, condescending response by many to the Black Lives Matter movement. But the anger that is behind that stubborn racism is what fueled this campaign, and its negative effects are already being felt. And here are a bunch of white Christians, celebrating. It is only by the grace of God that I didn’t lash out in anger at them. I knew that wouldn’t solve anything, so I stayed silent and focused on the importance of the Gospel message, which saved me, and which God has called me to share with others. And He got me through that night.

I have been feeling a little better each day since. I have been doing what I always do when I feel depressed: read through the Psalms and the Gospels, pray, watch Community, and listen to Beach House and Comedy Bang! Bang!. And all of that has helped. I also met with the students that I mentor in South Dallas, who could very likely be directly affected by some of Trump’s more extreme policy proposals. None of them were discouraged by the election results, because they already know that 1. God is in control, and 2. The world’s system is rigged against them, regardless of who is in office. That is a sobering, and oddly somewhat comforting thought. I have realized over the past few days that I should not have been at all surprised by these election results. America was founded on white supremacy, and the effects of slavery are still seen today in the form of racial targeting, police brutality, and mass incarceration. A disturbingly large percentage of the American population still feels strongly that this country belongs to white men, and anyone who doesn’t like that isn’t welcome here. And that is basically Donald Trump’s campaign message in a nutshell. He appealed to those people in a way that no candidate has in quite some time. So he won. Now what?

My Delayed, Prayerful Response

I find peace and comfort at all times, through all of life’s ups and downs, that God is sovereign over all things. “Our God is in the Heavens; He does all that He pleases” (Ps. 115:3). “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Even when we don’t understand why things happen the way they do, God’s will is perfect. Even if Donald Trump is the worst, most destructive leader America has ever seen, it is only for a short time. One day, Christ will come back and restore all things back to Himself.  “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4). That is true, lasting peace, “which surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7). So while I sincerely hope and pray that Trump’s presidency will not be as dangerous and hateful as he promised it would be time and time again throughout his campaign, I know that even if it is, our hope is not bound up in this life, but in Christ, who saves us and keeps us for all eternity.

I continue to pray for women who feel threatened in the workplace or in public due to the rampant misogyny in our culture. I continue to pray for victims of rape and sexual assault, that God would grant them peace and give them the courage to speak out and expose this evil. I pray for people of color who are continually marginalized and dehumanized by their fellow Americans and oppressed by a corrupt system. I pray for immigrants and refugees who came to America seeking safety and prosperity, only to be met with hatred and rejection. I pray for the LGBT community, that they would be treated with love, respect, and basic human decency by all, and that they would ultimately come to know the goodness and mercy of God. I pray for the Church, that we would be united by the blood of Christ, show empathy to all who are oppressed and afraid, demonstrate the goodness of God by fighting against injustice, and sharing the truth of the Gospel, for there is no hope to be found anywhere else. And now, by the grace of God, I am able to put aside my anger and pray for President-elect Donald Trump. I pray that he will repent and trust in Christ for salvation. I pray that he will do a complete 180 on everything that he has stood for up to this point and show compassion to the poor and acceptance to those who are different from him. I pray that God will grant him wisdom and use him to do great things. I pray for this country, as it is more divided than it has been in a long time, that we would come together and be willing to listen, really listen, to those we disagree with. I know things will never be perfect until Christ returns, but there is no reason why we should just give into hatred and evil. The only way we will be able to make a change is if we actually listen to each other, thus beginning the healing process.

A Few Final Thoughts

If you identify as a Republican, and you are happy about your party’s victory, I implore you to please step back and acknowledge that people are genuinely afraid of what is going to happen under President Trump. Don’t tell them to “just get over it.” Check your privilege, and show some empathy. If you identify as a Democrat, don’t direct your anger toward Republicans. Many members of the party did not want him either, and the values of Trump do not represent the values of everyone on the right. If you are a Christian, and you think that any one political party perfectly encapsulates biblical values, please think again. Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). There are good and bad ideas on both sides of the political spectrum, and to blindly align yourself with one party or the other in the name of Christianity is frankly irresponsible. Let the Word of God guide your conscience and your vote, and do not let politics create division within the Church.

If you are a straight white male who voted for Trump, and therefore think that all of the “SJWs” need to quit their whining, again I say: HAVE EMPATHY! You won’t be affected by Trump’s presidency, but so many others (understandably) fear that they will. Sadness, anger, and fear are all reasonable responses to what happened this week. It shouldn’t matter if you’re not affected. Putting yourself in others’ shoes and caring for them is a good, Christ-like, and necessary thing to do if we ever want to see change happen.

Some Verses to Consider

The biggest problem I see in America today — especially in the Church — is a lack of empathy for those who are suffering. If we want to follow Christ, we have to obey His Word. Here are a few passages that stand out to me as particularly relevant in our current political climate:

[17] For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. [18] He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. [19] Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

(Deuteronomy 10:17-19 ESV)

[17] learn to do good;
seek justice,
correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.
(Isaiah 1:17 ESV)

[5] “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, [6] if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, [7] then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.
(Jeremiah 7:5-7 ESV)

[21] Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
(Matthew 19:21 ESV)

[35] For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, [36] I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ [37] Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? [38] And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? [39] And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ [40] And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
(Matthew 25:35-40 ESV)

[26] If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. [27] Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
(James 1:26-27 ESV)

[5] Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?
(James 2:5 ESV)

We have a long way to go. I have a lot of improvements to make in myself. But in times like this, we must look to Jesus, the ultimate example of Gospel-centered social justice. Christ gave Himself for us so that we would have eternal life. I am determined to spend the rest of this life investing in the next, by defending the oppressed and making disciples, regardless of who the president is.