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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Election 2016: Why I Am Hurting

It has taken me awhile to be able to sit down and process my thoughts. I have been filled with overwhelming despair since the reality of Trump's presidency began to unfold on Tuesday night. I've had to lay low on social media because I have not wanted to have my feelings of despair and disbelief shut down. The deep pain that many of my friends and family are experiencing due to being people of color, gay, muslim, or liberal is deeply disheartening and painful. This morning I finally jumped back on Facebook, commenting on a post my husband had made that garnered much support and some chastisement and I responded to someone asking my opinion on the Van Jones post I made on election night. Both of those comments are embedded in this blog.
Here's what's important to me. This goes much deeper than being disappointed in an electoral outcome. I've lived through that before and survived. When people who voted for Trump are telling me to get over it and get on with it, this is what I'd like for them to understand.

Embedded in this election are subtle and not so subtle nods to returning to the “good 'ol days”. The problem with this sentiment is that those good 'ol days were mainly good for white men. I think many people were tired of being "bossed around” by a black man and certainly were unwilling to be bossed around by a woman for another 4 years. (Incidentally I think we are 10-20 years from electing a woman) Trump preyed on this mood with a demeanor that was deplorable throughout this election. This has nothing to do with party politics although I'm not thrilled that the government has gone Republican, I understand that as part of the process. What I see now is that (half of) the US has elected a demagogue who doesn't know how to do this job and someone who has verbally assaulted every category of person except rich white men. Where is the outrage over this from white evangelicals? What baffles me the most is how the hell so many WHITE Evangelicals got behind this disrespectful and rude person. Who is the church in the US? What ever happened to they will know we are Christians by our love? I would have more patience and understanding from the white evangelicals who voted for Trump if they would come out and denounce his hateful behavior and rhetoric. Instead he has modeled rude, disrespectful behavior that has spilled over into our society and they remain quiet. Where in Trump's rhetoric is there anything that smacks of compassion, care for the vulnerable, or economic equity? These happen to be the top things Jesus addressed in scripture. My ire is not about insulting people with whom I disagree. If you ask my close Republican friends about my ability to have a civil difference of opinion, I think you would see that for me it's never about agreeing. But in this case, it's in part about how the church has had a big role in electing one of the most insulting human beings to be in public life. As a pastor, I believe we must rise up and denounce the evil that has been affirmed. Politics aside, this man has ushered in an era of permission to be disrespectful unlike any we've seen. When the KKK rejoices over a President Elect, it's time to stand up and say enough. When I see bullying on the rise, the news tonight of kids shouting build the wall, the fear and trembling among minorities and women and I consider that a large part of the white church ushered this era in, I feel great despair. 

If you are a Christian and you voted for Trump, and if you are wanting me to now get on board and disregard my feelings of disappointment, then please show me how Trump's agenda reflects the kingdom of God. If you can't do that, then don't chafe at the criticism being leveled at you. At the very least, I would like to see Trump supporters show a bit of sensitivity to those who are genuinely afraid and feeling pushed aside due to this election. Why can't Trump supporters or even Trump himself issue an apology for the rude, vitriolic, demeaning statements that have been made about certain segments of society? Why is it so important for Trump supporters to hush those who wanted a very different president? I need to see some compassion coming out of the GOP. I have not seen that for years and it frustrates me to no end. I cannot take a church seriously who espouses love for God, love for country but will not take steps to show tangible concern for the most vulnerable in our society.

I will withhold my blind respect for the president-elect until he reveals to me that he will respect the office of the Presidency. His acceptance speech was the most humble he's been in his life but I just have to wonder...does a leopard change his spots? I am dubious. His meeting with President Obama seemed to strike a good tone. But what happens when the bear gets poked again? It will happen. We lampoon politicians in this country. Alec Baldwin has work for 4 years. Trump has shown an inability to handle disappointment or criticism, both which will be present throughout his presidency. I hope and pray he will be able to rise to the office with dignity and respect, two qualities that have been sorely lacking thus far. 

I am decidedly unexcited about his potential cabinet appointments. Mostly old white guys. You think Newt Gingrich is a good face for our foreign relationships guy? Sarah Palin? Seriously. You have to be kidding me, right? At some point we have to talk about competency again. And we have to talk about race and gender. Putting Sarah Palin and Ben Carson in his cabinet is tokenism and does not prove that he is an equal opportunity guy. If anything, it hurts the cause because it pretends to be inclusive when all it is is tokenism. The fact that neither of them are the best people for the job adds insult to injury.

If Trump is serious about wanting to be the President for all people, he will need to tone it down and realize that half of the nation voted for something very different. I had expected that HRC would've leaned to the center. Will Trump be able to do the same? If he wants to be President for the whole nation, he needs to be willing to listen to people who disagree with him. His first 100 days plan feels archaic and unhelpful. When he says that “Obamacare” is a disaster and he will repeal it on day one you know what that says to me? I am losing my health insurance. Why not put forth a better plan that still helps people get affordable care? As one friend put it, "He has a chance to do something helpful and what he is saying instead is 'screw you''. I need some conservatives to articulate in clear terms a modicum of compassion and concern for the most vulnerable in our society. And I need the white evangelical church to defend the gospel in ways that reflect the economic and social values of Jesus. Until I hear that, don't be short with me about why I am grieving and struggling with such deep feelings of despair and bewilderment. At the very least, you could say to me, to other democrats you know, to a gay person who is scared that their marriage will be nullified, to an immigrant who is terrified to go out in public, to a muslim who does not feel the freedom to practice their religion in this 'free' society, I'm sorry you are hurting. I hope we can do better moving forward.