After a couple days of letting the election of Donald Trump soak in, here are a few of my thoughts (though there are many more.)
I am no political prophet of today or the future, but I do think seriously concerning the issues before us as a nation and as Christians. When I was a kid I delivered two (and sometimes three) different newspapers every day – but only after I had read them. And as I delivered them I listened to news programs on my little battery radio. Today I actually buy the local newspaper and read it every day – as well, I feed my news junkie status by surveying all varieties of news outlets on the web – from every political viewpoint. I consider it part of my pastoral call to understand the world and to be able to apply the wisdom and promises of scripture to the lives of my congregation. Not that I imagine anyone thinks much of it. We all have our “opinions” and long gone are the days when anyone considered a pastor’s voice anything more than one more in the wilderness.
So… for whatever infinitesimally small importance it is, here is my voice in the wilderness:
- The campaign and election of Mr. Trump has accentuated and defined the growing cultural, educational, and economic divisions in our nation. Looking at the electoral maps you have to ask “Why ARE the cities blue and the rural counties red? Why DID the establishment vote for Clinton and the dis-enfranchised working class vote Trump? Why DID most LCMS pastors vote Trump? Trump had “tremendous success” in tapping into our nation’s divisions and giving voice to many who felt they needed a champion. Obviously it is a good thing that all people have a voice… but it is tragic when the cacophony is so loud and obnoxious that we can’t hear or listen to each other.
- It is so ironic that this fabulously rich “insider” businessman, would be able to become the champion of the disenfranchised! (It is also mind blowing that the man that demonstrated a life almost thoroughly without reference to the Christian faith became the champion of so many Christians.) Why couldn’t any of the other dozen Republicans running for the nomination succeed in that better than Trump? Isn’t the Democratic Party supposed to be the champion of the disenfranchised? Perhaps it was a trick in the unconscious psyche of those left outside? “If I vote for Trump maybe he will make me successful too.” Everyone wants to be on the “inside”, don’t they? Now the question will be if President Trump will be able to fulfill his promises to those who voted for him.
- Key to Trump’s triumph was most certainly his ability to tap into the fears of a nation that is facing incredible demographic change. One thing is common to all human societies in general throughout history: We love to be homogenous and we distrust people who are different from us. No matter what we try to convince ourselves of here in America, our ideal of the melting pot really doesn’t work very well. The attractiveness of our ideals do not end well when the muslim refugee from Syria moves in next door to us. What are we to think about this as Christians? Even Christians are conflicted. We are all damnable sinners as we consider what it means to actually love our neighbor. There are no easy answers as loving our neighbors often brings trouble.
The choices in this election were not good. Neither candidate was worthy of the office of Presidency of the United States (that is why I wrote in a third party candidate). I truly believe that in reality, our leaders are a reflection of our nation as a whole. God only gives us the leaders that we deserve, and I see this whole election as God’s judgement on us. It is today as it was in the Old Testament when the people of Israel wanted a king to rule them. God warned His people what an earthly king would do to them, that a king would rule unjustly and subject them. They insisted anyway – and God finally gave them what they wanted. In this nation we do not have righteous leaders because we are not a righteous nation.
But now, dealing in the reality of that judgement, having elected Mr. Trump, I do believe all Americans need to support him as the President Elect and graciously give him a chance to lead. As President Obama stated, Trump’s success as President means the good success of this nation. Even he shook hands with Trump as they met in the White House and began the treasured tradition in this nation of an orderly change of government. As Christians we can be hopeful that good things might come from this election. We are to be hopeful people because we know that we have an amazing God who can make good come out of bad. Can we be hopeful that the efforts of President Trump would undergird and support our Christian values as basic to the moral fabric of this nation? Yes we can – in spite of his (and our own) failure to demonstrate those values in his (and our) own life. May it only be that in winning any battle we don’t lose the war.
Even as I truly do hope for the best and desire to support a President Trump, I am doubtful of his success. The character flaws that this President Elect owns opens the way to exceedingly dangerous situations – for our country and the world. Someone said to me that they hoped that the office of the presidency would make him a better man. It could be. I earnestly pray for it. But in Mr. Trump’s case, I am fearful that the position of power will make him a worse man, not better. I hope and pray that my judgement of his character is wrong.
I think there is one promise about the next four years that is sure: For better or worse, this nation is in for a wild ride. We asked for it. We got it. We had better be up for it. I am just praying that the Lord God would provide a cushion of saving grace at the end if Trump’s victory train ends up derailed.