On election day, I went to bed saddened by Trump’s overwhelming win in the race for President. I had been fearful for this election for some time, not just because of Trump, but because there was no presidential candidate I could in good conscience root for. But the burden I felt didn’t quite settle in until it became a reality. Trump is going to become our 45th POTUS. I expected to be disappointed this election season, I just didn’t know which way my disappointment would be directed.
What was more disappointing, however, was waking up the next morning to the slew of rants on social media. More than being saddened by the result of the election, I was saddened by the hate, slander, accusations, and pride that spilled out across my Facebook newsfeed, even from fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. As I’ve been processing this year’s election, along with the responses that have arisen as a result – including my own – I think this election has indeed revealed something about us, and about America: that maybe there is a little bit of Trump in all of us.
We loath Trump because of the ignorance and biases he exudes from the podium. We mourn over Trump’s impending presidency because of the potential threats it may bring to minorities. We are angered that the election of Trump as president reveals that much of America longs for “the good ‘ol days”, which weren’t so good for our black, Muslim, Asian, LGBT, and fellow minority friends. Much of what Trump stands for and has exhibited throughout his campaign is wrong, and it is right to speak out against the racist, stereotyping, bigoted sentiments that have seeped through the pores of not only Trump, but his supporters. And we should stand with those who are afraid for their futures as a result. But what has unfolded through the streets of social media and our cities is the same anger, hate, and stereotyping that we supposedly despise.
We abhor Trump for his blanket statements about immigrants and women, and yet aren’t we doing the same when we make blanket statements about the “red states” of America? To label half of America as ignorant, bigoted, and hateful, simply for who they voted for, is to give in to the same ignorance, bigotry, and hatred that fueled Trump’s campaign and vocal supporters. To fall into fear which leads to anger, and lashing out in physical and verbal violence, is to give into the same fear which led “White rural Americans” to the polls with Trump ballots in hand. We may say we are progressive, enlightened, or morally better than the rest of America, but are we really? Does the way we respond really prove what we believe about diversity and individual rights?
People are defined by more than just the political party they backed, or the candidate they voted for. To define ourselves by how we vote is to force Americans into only two camps of morality. To reduce half of America’s moral and ethical standards to the party they backed is a disgrace to the very diversity of beliefs and opinions we pride ourselves on in America. We cannot be defined simply by our political association. The morality of parties, politicians and Presidents ebbs and flows just as much as the culture does throughout time. American politics cannot, and is completely bankrupt of the ability to define our morality. That authority can only belong to a greater standard, the higher authority of King Jesus.
This election has proven that the Trump we hate, the Trump we despise, may also reside – no matter how small – within each of us. As I’ve been pouring through blog posts, Tweets, and Facebook posts about the election, I’ve come to see this same hate, frustration, and despair rise within me. I too have a little Trump in me. My anger at those responding hatefully towards Trump is a reminder of my own hopelessness and lostness apart from Jesus. The reality is that neither of us is better than Trump; we are each dead in our sin apart from Christ, just like Trump; and we are each in need of grace and saving, just like Trump (and just like Hilary as well, mind you). No politics or campaign or human leader can ever fix the fundamental problem of human sin. Only Jesus can, and he has.
We can and should be upset at what may come as a result of Trump in the Oval Office; but we cannot let that anger materialize into hate, a hate that demonizes everyone else who is not like us. To do so is to commit the same “Trumpism” that got him into the White House. We cannot give in to the rhetoric flying around, begging to stir up despair and anger against the “others”. For those of us who hope in Christ, we have a hope far greater than politics. And now is the time to prove to people around us that our hope is real. It is not empty faith, it is a faith that leads us to hope, – and moreso – to live, as beacons of light for the only Authority who deserves our allegiance. Nothing can save us from the chaos of the world, not even politics; now is a time of testing – will we trust more in the hope and promise of the Gospel, or the fear and despair of the world? May our love for Christ, love for brother, and love for neighbor cast out the fear of “otherness” and lead us into hopeful action for the Gospel these next four years.