Having almost a week to reflect on the election of Donald J. Trump to the highest office in our country, here are some brief thoughts.
Quickly after the election was announced the #notmypresident appeared to be trending on Twitter. This should really not be surprising, but what did surprise me was the number of Christians tagging it. After some reflection I believe this hashtag presents a sub-Christian position. Rather than offering up solidarity and considering how to work together (as, by the way, both President Barak Obama and former-secretary Hillary Clinton did), this hashtag communicates not just difference but resentment. Who is that resentment aimed at? Mr Trump? His supporters? His voters (don’t make the fallacious mistake of thinking those three are the something)? While I expect this kind of thing from non-Christian youth that mustered up massive protests in the #occupy movement to basically no effect, Christians should have an entirely different attitude. We are to love our enemies and pray for the salvation of our persecutors. We are to submit to governments in as far as they do not contradict the commands of scripture. Further, when a Christian hashtags “notmypresident” who do you think will hear and see that message? Do you think President-Elect Trump is insecurely scrolling through Twitter reading 140 character rant after 140 character rant? Maybe. Far more likely is that someone who voted for Mr. Trump will see it, and potentially feel shame for doing the best they could in a messy situation. Generalizations and mass-social media are probably just unhelpful right now.
Building on those same thoughts, it occurs to me that my generation is simultaneously growing less informed and more elitist. This came across most clearly in a tweet from one of my friends who commented that “a racist president [had been] elected by an uneducated populace.” There are several assumptions embedded in the tweet. First is the assumption that education is a mark of intelligence. To put my cards on the table, I am far more likely to equate education with indoctrination rather than intelligence given the state of most public colleges and universities. Second, it seems to suggest that the country would be better (or at least less racist) if only the educated voted or maybe, forgive me for the comparison, if uneducated voters only counted for 3/5s of a vote? But exactly who do you think the uneducated are? I bet you would be surprised by the number of white, middle-America farmers with agricultural degrees. The truth is that minorities in major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco are far less likely to have a college education. (In other words such thinking actually would have decreased voting for Hillary Clinton).
In terms of being increasingly less informed we ought to consider the actions of Presidents not just their words. Political-speak often makes the news while political action goes un- or under-reported. Many have been concerned about President-Elect Trump’s rhetoric involving hispanic immigrants, and rightly so, they neglect the fact that President Obama’s administration has quietly deported over 2.5 million immigrants according to Politifact.com. Similarly, some have voiced concern about Mr. Trump’s dismissal of global warming, but have not commented on President Obama’s support of the North Dakota Pipeline that could have disastrous environmental effects. What this amounts to is the politicization of the media and our dependance upon hyper-liberal (New York Times) and hyper-conservative (Fox News) sources for our information. Everything is colored red or blue now. We should not pretend otherwise.
While I am on the topic of uninformed comments, the #dumptrump group seems to be entirely unaware of the purpose for the Electoral College and the difficulty in getting rid of it. To get rid of the Electoral College would require an constitutional amendment, which means a super majority of votes in Congress and ratification by 3/5s of the states. Does that sound reasonable? The problem is that 3/5s of the states would lose all political weight if the Electoral College was abolished. Essentially anything not touching an ocean would cease to have any political voice.
I don’t know what the future will hold. Will President-Elect Trump ruin America? That depends on what you think America is for and how you define ruin, it is fair to say that he probably would not do irreparable damage. Would former-secretary Hillary Clinton have ruined America? Same answer, which is why former-secretary Clinton and President Obama are right to give tentative endorsements of President-Elect Trump. We do not know the future, we can only predict it (and often the so-called experts are wrong, see 2016 election results as evidence). What we do know is that Mr. Trump will be the next President of the United States and, as such, has earned the right to fail.
It is fair to see this election as an indictment on all things liberal. The New York Times reported that 42 states shifted to the right on election night causing almost all swing states to fall for Mr. Trump and new “battleground” states to emerge. This should be read as a protest against President Obama’s controversial positions on abortion and Planned Parenthood, freedom of religion as it intersects with small business ownership and operation, and the deception involved in the passage of the Affordable Care Act. That said, the country is dramatically shifting and we could easily see an equally startling swing left in the next election. This might be just the shape of American politics left, then right, the left again, basically the electric-slide of election seasons, or it could be a problematic portrait of the growing disparity of ideologies in American.
There is much more to think about but for now we will leave it at that.
Thanks for reading,