As an evangelical, and reluctant voter for Trump, I would like to write something for my friends, especially my Christian ones, who are disappointed, defeated, and perhaps not a little discouraged by the outcome of this election. First, I really hope you find comfort in this post I wrote after being disappointed by the previous election: Moving Past the Stages of Election Loss Grief.
Second, I want to suggest a shift in mindset that can move us from alienation and grief to hope and action. I stress mindset, because, as it is said, “our attitude determines our altitude.” Until we can adopt a constructive attitude, we will stay inert, or worse, destructive. Here are three things we can consider:
- The glass is half full
- The glass is dirty
- The glass is half empty
The glass is half-full
The first shift we need to make is away from defeatism and boundless negativity. While some might consider President Trump a glass full of mud, the truth is that we must find the opportunities this presents, even if it is merely to become contructively active in our communities and potlicial associations. And for Christians, there is more of a mandate to abandon negativity, and embrace positive, faith-filled action.
Here are some good things that I think we can look forward to in a Trump administration:
1. Pro-life, pro-constitution SCOTUS appointees
If Trump keeps his campaign promise, he will appoint pro-life and constitutionalist judges. I know that not all Christians, namely “progressive” Christians, are in favor of a more limited government, but they ought to have concern for the unborn on all fronts.
Abolitionist judges (when it comes to abortion) will hopefully end the needless death of thousands of children a day.
I have read the progressive Christian arguments about how contraception under a liberal administration might do more to reduce pregnancies, and by extension, abortions, and I somewhat agree.[ref]Hillary Clinton Is the Best Choice for Voters Against Abortion
(christianpost.com) [/ref] However, promoting contraception is at best a double-edged sword as far as social conservatives are concerned because it is perceived to also be promoting (at least not discouraging) premarital sex and promiscuity.
But I understand if you think we should ALSO encourage contraception use. But just as merely making a law is an incomplete solution to abortion, so are mere incentives to reduce pregnancy. Imagine if I gave the argument for not making slavery illegal because such a move was too forceful and not considering the slave owners. Let’s do a both/and, and let’s rejoice that at least we have a chance to end the holocaust of American children.
2. Ending Political Dynasties: Bush, Clinton, the DNC/RNC, and the media
I think we all agree that the concentration of power, both political and monetary, is dangerous and at an all time high in the United States. Such concentrations, be it in the Bush family or the Clinton family, do not bode well for us. The scheming and pay for play we saw in the Clinton administration (even though she was not formally indicted – yes, innocent until proven guilty, but come one, smell the coffee) is exactly the kind of temptation we would expect when our system does not protect us from such abuses.
However, there are other obtuse dynasties that are on the ropes because of the Trump win – the political parties (DNC and RNC), and the biased media.
Look, I know Hannity is not objective, and I listen to NPR daily for my news, so I’m not just in the conservative echo chamber. I’m sick and tired of the extremes of my own party (GOP) – if I hear “no amnesty” one more time I’m going on a rampage with a can of silly string (I don’t own a gun ;).
3. Trump is not a conservative – a chance for return to moderation
Trump trounced his neo-conservative competitors, in part because he was speaking plainly. But I also hope that, like me, he was chosen as a rejection of the hardliners in the GOP who are “anti amnesty” or “against abortion under all conditions” despite the fact that Trump’s rhetoric about the wall or pro-life justices might indicate otherwise. If you are hoping for a more moderate GOP, Trump is an awkward move in that direction.
4. Israel will again have a friend in the West
While Christians should all care about justice, and even calling out Israel when it acts unjustly, as Christians, we ought to have a special place in our hearts for Israel. Arguably, the Obama administration pandered to violent Muslims, whose nations surround Israel and promise to destroy her. Benjamin Netanyahu has already called Trump “our great friend.” Check out the short vid:
The glass is dirty
To repeat, what we need to be useful to God and our neighbor is to see clearly, and there are a few shifts in thinking which I think my progressive and conservative friends need to make unless they want to continue to misunderstand and cause division rather than unity based on actual justice and truth.
If the glass is dirty, no matter what’s in there, you won’t see things properly.
1. Assume the best motives, not the worst
Assuming bad motives is a sure path to strife, hatred, and ineffectiveness and making things better. The epithets of deplorable, racist, xenophobic, misygonist, and low education as the reaons behind the Trump win are demonization, not truth. Believing that all progressives are pro-abortion, pro-dependence on government, against free and religious speech is just not what motives most of them.
But back to Trump. I believe that even Trump’s pejorative views on immigrants and his sexism can be attributed to ignorance (and being from a previous generation) rather than malice.
On White-Lash: Missing the Mark Entirely, Based in Fear and Hatred
To say that this election is “white- lash”, a racist reaction to a black president and a female candidate, is pure scapegoating, demonization and racism itself. It is deeply evil, not enlightening, and largely untrue.[ref]‘This was a whitelash’: Van Jones’ take on the election results (cnn.com)[/ref]For a decent reply to Van Jones racist rant, consider Dear America, This Is Important — Trump Did Not Win Because of Racism (nationalreview.com)
Would you believe that Trump improved the GOP’s position with black and Hispanic voters? Obama won 93 percent of the black vote. Hillary won 88 percent. Obama won 71 percent of the Latino vote. Hillary won 65 percent. Critically, millions of minority voters apparently stayed home. Trump’s total vote is likely to land somewhere between John McCain’s and Romney’s (and well short of George W. Bush’s 2004 total), while the Democrats have lost almost 10 million voters since 2008. And all this happened even as Democrats doubled-down on their own identity politics.
If you want to keep your view that those who voted for Trump are haters, aren’t you like the conservatives who think you want to kill children and allow Islam to murder us? Are they right about your motives?
We don’t have to be naive, there are some haters out there. But if we think that the 50% who voted for the opponent are mistmotived, or even a majority, we are the problem. Not just part of it. In this mindeset, WE are THE main problem keeping us from fixing things. We accuse and act out thinking we can win friends and influence people. But wrongly assuming the motives of others works against us.
2. Think about other possible noble motives – they are there
This election was about the ongoing corruption of power and money and extremism of both parties. It is also a reaction to heavy-handed liberal policymaking, chiefly the ACA which was shoved down our throats at a moment when the Liberals had power.
Let us hope, now that the Republicans have power, that they do not make the same selfish ideological and unbalanced mistakes. And for those of us who supported Trump over Hillary, with reservations, let us now speak prophetically to the Trump Administration.
3. The hyperboles of election politics
As even President Obama changed his angry rhetoric after his election bid against Hillary, so does every other candidate exiting the election cycle. It’s part of the process. Trump has spoken in hyperboles an off-the-cuff in some ugly ways, but when it comes to governing, he may be very different. His bark may be worse than his bite.
Trump’s conciliatory victory speech was a surprise to many, and a welcome relief to those of us who nervously preferred him to Secretary Clinton. And perhaps evidence that he will be less of a loose cannon in office.
Trump does produce more misinformation and gaffes than even Joe Biden, and he often lack decency and tact when it comes to addressing women, minorities, and Muslims. However, I expect that both the Republicans and Democrats, not to mention public opinion and the pressures of public office can help steer Trump away from extremes.
4. Trump evangelicals: When minorities talk of injustice, do not hear racism and victimhood in every complaint
There are a few major misconceptions on the Trump side of evangelicalism also. Though Black Lives Matter chooses way too many thugs to defend when they are killed by police, there IS a problem within both the system AND the black community that needs to be heard and addressed with compassion. Just because liberals cry wolf doesn’t mean there aren’t some real wolves out there. I think that’s their point.
Yes, progressives need to stop choosing thugs as posterboys for their causes (there are still an appalling number of innocent blacks killed by police), and yes, they need to condemn movements that riot and kill (more loudly please), but we need to address the concerns of the downtrodden and LISTEN or else we are part of the problem.
The glass is half empty
Yes, there are problems with Trump and the GOP. Big ones. As Christians, we need to speak truth to power, not blindly supporting a political party. We must maintain our prophetic relationship the power.
1. We must steer away from coercive legislation
As I pointed out in Proportions for Public Policy, the Normal Curve, both sides need to stop coercive legislation – both Provision (taxation) on one hand and Prohibitions on the other – in order to limit government to what it is good at.
Now that the GOP has a majority in both House and Senate, not to mention the White House, we need to make sure they don’t get all tyrannical and force legislation (like the ACA) through without at least some meaningful bipartisan support.
2. We must steer away from unbalanced, extremist solutions
On the major issues of our day – immigration, gay rights, unborn rights, and the economy, we need to avoid one-sided solutions and implement solutions that balance the rights of everyone involved. That does not mean a 50/50 balance, since most dilemmas have a majority and a minority concern – but we need to listen and compromise where it creates good will and does not harm others (even if some are inconvenienced by comparison).
Both the RNC and DNC have been extreme on many of these issues, often ignoring the rights, no matter how minor, of some parties in these discussions. To put in solutions like “no amnesty” or “no abortion under any circumstances” (or conversely “no limits on abortion”) or “no gay marriage” or “no freedom to deny participation in objectionable causes” is what we need to avoid.
3. We must avoid moral posturing and focus on moral issues that matter
Not all issues are of the same moral importance, though if you listen to our polarized parties of today, you’d think that any deviation was worthy of excommunication. When all doctrines are required, you have a cult. I think we can focus on what we CAN do, and a great example is the NAE’s For the Health of the Nation, which emphasizes bipartisan solutions for the primary problems we have:
- Religious Freedom
- Family Life and Children
- Sanctity of Life
- The Poor and Vulnerable
- Human Rights
- Creation Care
4. We must address the concerns of black, gay, immigrant, AND religious Americans with balance and without rancor
As I mentioned, if we ignore injustice, it will harm us. Let’s model what is good and balanced, not what is extreme and exclusionary.
5. We must pray for our leaders
In the virally popular article Donald Trump, President of the United States by the Sovereign Intervention of God, radio personality and theologian Dr. Michael Brown asks us to consider:
- What is the Sovereign plan of God now that Trump is elected?
- What does God now expect us to do?
Hopefully we ask the same questions after every election.
I am sure my own partisan judgments have permeated this article, and I am sure that to some it sounds patronizing and self-reinforcing. But what I mean to do is ask my progressive Christian friends (and anyone else who will listen) to consider how we move forward with Donald Trump. He is not the greatest candidate, and quite possibly, could be one of the worst. But some of that is up to us.