It’s Over

The evening of the election, I planned to ignore the watch.  I had canvassed door to door, donated money, and voted.  I was done.  However, before bed, I peeked at the returns.  Ohio was leaning bad.  In the middle of the night, I woke up and could not get back to sleep.  So I got up, and looked on the internet.  It all looked bad. I was still in a state of disbelief when I turned on the radio, just in time to hear the acceptance speech.  I posted to Facebook:

We are so screwed. The whole world is so screwed.

Politicians have long been fond of saying they have “faith in the American people.”  Trump’s election proves another saying more apt: “There’s a sucker born every minute”.

In the following days, around the country there were pointless juvenile expressions of denial.   Just what were they protesting?  The Constitution?  Where was all of that energy before the election, when it could have done some good?

trump-klan-flyerThe election is over.  The American people have spoken. Once the party of lofty ideals personified by Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower, the Republican Party, has become the party of bigotry, deceit, and willful ignorance, personified by an operator of bankrupt casinos. Nevertheless, voters have put Republicans in control of the presidency, both houses of Congress, and most state governments.  The party that begat interminable Benghazi hearings is will now be appointing judges throughout the land.  Willful ignorance, in the form of climate change deniers and Biblical creationists, will be put in charge of protecting the environment and educating our youth. White Nationalists are holding victory parades, and hate crimes are being reported across the country.

The American Century is over.  America once saw itself as a “shining city on the hill” (Matthew 5:14), spreading freedom and prosperity throughout the world.  However, the American people looked at the bold new brightly colored multi-cultural world of the future and fearfully retreated to a dim dream of the past.  The America of today does want to be leader of the free world, and frankly, a people that elected a such a charlatan is not worthy to lead it.

Democracy is difficult.  It demands informed, engaged citizens committed to the civic good.  Around the world, democratic republics are overwhelmed by by identity politics, by corruption, by the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, and by institutions that primarily serve to perpetuate the wealth and power of those in charge.  The opposition, weak, disorganized, and fragmented by competing utopian visions, is easily suppressed.  In such places, the democratic institutions might appear to be intact, but the vision “of liberty and justice for all” is but a distant dream.

vote-trump-burned-church

Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, Greenville, Mississippi

However, that is not going to happen here.  The Fascists might have won a battle, but this is not the Germany of the 1930s.  Even in Mississippi, the vast majority has no desire to return to the days of church burnings and lynchings, when the KKK was allowed to run rampant.  The burnt out church will be repaired, the sun will rise, and the rafters will again resound with the people praising God.

Our constitutional institutions are intact.  Throughout America, there are people of integrity, judges, policeman, bureaucrats, and even some Republicans, ready to prevent abuses of power.  We need to be vigilant, informed and ready to act.

After the new Constitution was written, Ben Franklin was asked what kind of government it was.  He replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.

We can and we must.  This election has shown us that our democracy is much more fragile than he had imagined, but the great experiment in government by the people and for the people that began over 200 years ago is definitely not over.

Let us join together and make America great again.

 

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4 thoughts on “It’s Over

    • The first version of this post was so pessimistic that I thought it best to wait. I am over the initial phases of grief. I suspect it is a matter of faith.

      I think that Truth will reign in the end. However, before the American people wake up, we might trash the environment or blunder into a devastating war. These we might not be able to recover from, certainly not quickly.

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  1. I started to write out a longish response to the idea that the protests are useless, but then I ran across this: https://medium.com/hi-my-name-is-jon/stop-telling-each-other-its-alright-sometimes-it-s-just-not-7b3180298257#.erbzxlbx9

    “People don’t want to hear that everything is alright, when they know — deeply and painfully — that it isn’t. They don’t want to be lied to, even if it’s in the nicest way possible.

    All they want is for us to be near. Be open. Be awake and willing to listen. Be patient. Be understanding. And most of all, to just be there. Because the greatest gift you can ever give to someone who is mourning a tragedy, a business disaster, anything — is to ensure that they aren’t alone.

    That’s why people in a time of crisis often scream out for help or for companionship.”

    I haven’t been to any of the marches, but from what I’ve heard from friends who are involved, it’s not about trying to change the results of the election. It’s just about being vocally not alone. It’s about comforting one another.

    I ordered a #blacklivesmatter sign. Planting it in my yard won’t change a thing about the election, and it probably won’t save a black life, but it may make someone feel like they’re less alone. I think that’s worthwhile work.

    Obviously this isn’t meant as a critique of your whole post, just that one bit about the protests. I raise it because I think combatting loneliness is holy work, and because I think that being near to one another’s’ concerns is the key to a loving society.

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    • Thanks for taking the time to comment, and for the link to Jon Westenberg’s essay “Stop telling each other it’s alright. Sometimes, it’s just not.” I hope that my post does not sound like I think it’s alright. It’s not. America, indeed the whole world, is in for a tough time. It was not until I was over the initial stages of grief that I was able to say anything more than “We’re so screwed.”

      However, we have been through tough times before. The spirit of the last section of my essay is really more in keeping with Westenberg’s last point: “Life really does go on.”

      I actually did join a protest. In Cincinnati, the trial of Ray Tensing, the UC policeman who killed Sam DuBose at a traffic stop, ended in a hung jury. I think this is a failure in our judicial system and thus, a good reason to protest. By the time I had joined the march, the Black Lives Matter had been joined by Never Trump. The organizers seemed happy to have such a large crowd, and both sides got to speak at the gathering in Washington Park.

      I am not sympathetic to people going into the street to scream “Not my President”. For example, one guy had a sign that said “Capitalism gave us Trump, why not try socialism.” Did he also have a sign eight years ago saying “Capitalism gave us Obama”? Capitalism seemed to be headed toward a disaster at the time.

      Are people really so isolated in our modern world that they go into the streets just, as you say, to “comfort one another”?

      Trump was elected. It might be an “unimaginable catastrophe”, as I thought before the election, but by the convoluted system that we have used for over 200 years, he was elected fair and square.

      There are two dangers that I see among those of us opposing Trump. One is that we will fritter away our energy in a myriad of protests that are essentially pointless. The other, similar problem, is that we become so fragmented that we are ineffective.

      At the core, I want good, Constitutional government for all. That requires that we survive a Trump administration. That survival depends in part on the integrity, the essential goodness, of many whom we see as political opponents.

      Protests will be needed, but let’s not protest the constitution.

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