It’s been a hard week for me. I’ve been in mourning.
For decency, common sense, for what some who claim to be Christians have sunk to in the name of winning at politics.
It’s the Monday after the election. Some call it a huge mandate by the American people. I’m tempted to call it the flatulence heard around the world.
But, I guess I won’t.
Saturday, I turned on my television for the first time since Donald Trump was determined to be president-elect of the United States. Sunday evening, I watched him speak on 60 minutes.
My worst fears haven’t started happening. Wholesale riots and looting in my home town, missiles in the air, Russian soldiers coming down my street ready to take over. No martial law has been declared (as far as I know.) My bank account has not been frozen because I dared to vote Democrat.
Black and Hispanic people have been treated badly since the election. One man, upset about not getting his way in a South Carolina post office, told a black worker that he would ‘tell President Trump.’ That President Trump would ‘burn a cross in her front yard.” And this poor lady, known as a kind soul in her small town, took it.
That frightened me.
But still, 7 days post election, the world (as I know it) has not come to an end.
Although, for the better part of a week I thought (and acted) like it had.
I wondered who I could trust. It is clear that many voted for Trump, but had dishonestly acted as if they weren’t planning to do so. They were afraid of being mocked or losing friends.
And of course, its none of my business who anyone votes for, but Tuesday’s outcomes made me wonder about this world that I call home—and the people who live in it.
My original actions were a bit dramatic. I planned an ‘austerity’ budget because I feared bank shutdowns in a Trump regime. I took down my Facebook account and told people who I stay in contact with why and how to reach me. I did not buy a newspaper, or listen to a radio news or television news broadcast until this past evening (I still have not bought a newspaper.)
I didn’t want to eat, drink, or engage with society. I didn’t want to do anything fun. I felt like I was mourning the death of a loved one.
Quite a bit of emotional investment. Especially since I didn’t even like Hillary Clinton that much.
She had been my lesser of two evils, when my choice, Bernie Sanders was defeated.
“You have to let go of this sadness” said a trusted and good friend at work, last week, as I drug myself around the office.
I wasn’t sure why. I mean, what else was there? Where was my hope? What had I to look forward to over the next four plus years? Might as well not make any hopeful plans. Might as well not try.
To me, our electoral college had voted for insanity over sanity. I pictured a soon to be police state full of gun-toting S.S. like thugs. A place where women were no longer safe to walk the streets without being oogled and grabbed. A place where cynical male politicians who had never walked in my shoes or lived my life got to make my reproductive decisions.
I spent a lot of time praying. I tried to pray for the right things. Some may gasp, but I prayed for Donald Trump and the newly elected Republican Congress. I wasn’t mad at God. He hadn’t done this. America (or a majority of electoral voters) had.
But who, exactly, was responsible for this?
I guessed I knew from some nasty and immature comments that some of my longtime acquaintances in Alabama put on their Facebook pages. Comments that proved them to be every bit as shallow and hypocritical as I had long suspected them to be.
Easy fix for that. “Unfollow.” “Un-friend.” We had never had that much in common to start.
But some who were making these comments, loyal, cheering Trump supporters, I couldn’t zap that easily.
Because they were my friends.
Because I loved them.
Because they love me.
I went around in a fog, reserving my energy for my job and basic survival. This is similar to what I do during deep winter months when seasonal depression gets the better of me.
I tried to distract myself. I did genealogy research. I read about medieval European women who were great leaders. Who stood up to much worse ignorance and bias in a world much more primitive.
And I watched WWII documentaries.
My favorites are an unabashed propaganda series called “Why we fight.” In it, they explained the rise of Nazi Germany and how the appeasement of Hitler pulled us into an apocalypse of world war. Watching them this past week, I was glad my grandfather, who despite his faults, will always be my greatest hero, had not lived to see this election ‘mandate.’ This thing which I thought was surely the beginning of the end of the world.
As I prayed, however, something strange happened. I felt the Holy Spirit say to me, repeatedly, “Give the guy a chance.”
I took what I viewed to be an answer to prayer to the Nth negative degree. What else could I do? I could sign petitions to have Hillary declared winner due to her popular vote majority (did it) and to have the electoral college abolished (yes, again.) I could investigate my old ambition of emigrating to another country. And I could stand and grimly smile at Trump supporters when the world began to explode, smug as I said, with my dying breath, “I told you so.”
Yes, God was in this, I reasoned. He gave an evil people what they demanded, a racist, sexist, ignorant, unprepared leader—a tin-plated despot with bad hair. Beware what you ask for, right?
I waited to hear President Obama tell President elect Trump that since he already knew everything, to figure out the new office all by himself.
They met. A 15 minute meeting became an hour and a half. He was gracious, and it seems Trump even listened and may be willing to compromise on some of his plans such as the wholesale ditching of the affordable care act.
I waited for Hillary to preach doom and gloom as so many others were doing. Instead, she was also gracious. In turn, Trump thanked her for her service to the country and vowed to promote healing in the country. He spoke directly to racist bullies, telling them to ‘stop it’, no doubt surprising some of them who thought that he would be their direct line to the KKK.
Over the weekend, I saw a news photo of the politician I truly cannot stand, Mitch McConnell, trotting by Trump’s side like an over-enthusiastic terrier. And yes, it made me angry. McConnell played politics to win—by hook or by crook—and his side did just that. I felt demoralized afresh.
But maybe it isn’t as bad as all that.
Maybe, just maybe, some of what Trump said was like Mitch’s daily drivel—just to win the vote. Maybe my dystopian vision of a Trump-led 4th Reich will not come to pass.
Maybe all social workers, left leaning Christians and those who actually give a damn about the poor and displaced will not be loaded on buses and sent to concentration camps.
Maybe, just maybe, America still has a chance.
One way that we might pull victory from the ashes is NOT to fight the victors.
What? Yes, what I just said. Stop fighting. Don’t obstruct. Don’t make the next four years an exercise in futility. We CAN do better.
How? By being different. By using our current, wise President’s example and being gracious, willing to compromise. Perhaps we can send a message that win or lose, Democrats and Progressives can be the better men and women. Take the high road.
Show by example what true leadership is all about.
It seems like our divided nation has elected entertainment over leadership. A reality show in Washington to beat all reality shows.
But maybe I’m wrong about that.
I hope so.
I’m not saying suck up everything that the winners dish out in January. And I’m not saying to stop fighting injustice. But this election is over. Accept it. It’s done. Move on.
Let’s show by being a better loser, better party and better people that we know how to lead. Be better than the last 8 years of Republican obstruction. Shame (if its possible) people who used fear, hate and lies to vote in an unprepared and unqualified candidate.
Let’s not be ‘business as usual’ for the next four years. Let us be the change we wish to see.
Maybe there is some hope after all. But hope lies in choosing cooperation. Choosing not to obstruct. Choosing to show America what the best can really, truly be.