Donald Trump will be the President of the United States in January. Much has been written about how his improbable victory was secured. Based on all the opinions and statistics flying around out in cyberspace, about the only unanimous conclusion that can be drawn concerning his win is he got the most electoral college votes. How’s that for analysis!?
In the interest of documenting the days following Trump’s election, I want to use this post to make some observations about the aftermath. I am but one voice among millions, and an amateur at that, but I’m an amateur with convictions! So here goes:
1. The dominance of Trump’s win shows up well on a red/blue map of the U.S., however, we know it was a close contest, particularly since it appears that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. The map looks almost stereotypical: the coasts (except Florida) and urban dwellers picked Clinton while “middle America” went for Trump. The temptation for Hillary supporters/sympathizers has been to say that this was a “White-lash” against the PC Culture that Trump supporters deplore so much. Thus, race is injected, and the narrative that America is “post-racial” is called into question, and Trump’s win is the proof.
2. Those who have not given into the temptation that America might be post-racial were quick to assume that racists who had never voted in their lives came out of the woodwork to vote for Trump since he campaigned on a nostalgia that wants to recover the greatness of America during racially segregated times. He is not “politically correct”, and he tells it like it is. Those sorts of characteristics seemed to play well among a group of white folks looking for a champion. But then the exit polls began deconstructing this racist narrative at least to a point. The reasons behind Trump’s win were not as clear cut as was initially thought. There were hints that Trump won on the basis that he outperformed (at least in terms of percentages) his Republican predecessors, McCain & Romney among African American and Latino voters. So much for explicitly racist whites coming out of the woodwork to vote for Trump.
3. On the other hand, the absence of a negative effect that Trump’s race-baiting and misogynistic rhetoric had on those who would support him indicate an easiness with more subtle, imbedded, structural racism. This is really the crux of the matter in my opinion. I know and care deeply for lots of Trump supporters. I gladly pointed out during the campaign why I couldn’t vote for him to these folks I care about, and they are not explicitly racist. They simply have their reasons for voting for him that outweigh his attraction to explicitly racist supporters. He represents a man of the people deeply suspicious of the mainstream media and the progressive elites. He ran against political correctness. He tells it like it is, and those whom I love who voted for him probably did so at least in part because of these factors.
4. Tough, “self-made” people like those kinds of people best. Whether they’ve made a fortune or a few dollars, they did it themselves. They didn’t ask for a handout, nor would they have received one if offered. But if a man comes along promising to uplift their plight to make America great, they’re all ears.
5. What’s interesting to me about all this anti-political correctness is how fragile it is when the shoe is on the other foot. Let’s get real: freedom of speech extends to those with whom we disagree or it’s not true freedom of speech. So telling it like it is depends a lot on where you sit when you’re telling it and where you sit when it’s being told to you. Not all speech is true, nor is all speech useful, but in our country it’s supposed to be free. So forgive me if I have very little sympathy for the President Elect’s pleas for apologies or polemics against the media’s unfairness when he has created an environment for telling it like it might be. He’s encouraged insanity in our discourse, he’s used insane discourse. I pin all of that on him and his most boisterous supporters.
6. Trump’s attempt to waive a magic wand hours after he was elected, calling for unity and promising to be President for all Americans was at best hollow. One cannot campaign on division as Trump did and expect a whole bunch of people who were his targets during the campaign to fall in line at once on the basis that the campaign is the campaign, and now “I’m really going to take care of everybody.” It doesn’t work that way, and with the rise of social media, anyone hoping for a cheap, magical unity won’t likely find it anytime soon, if ever, under this president. So if you’re one of those exhausted people yearning to get on with things and give the guy a chance (raising my hand), don’t expect everyone to join you. Seek first to understand before assuming you know why others aren’t as quick to get onboard.
7. Lastly, I have the privilege to get onboard because frankly, I’m not a target of any policy (whatever those are in Trump’s case) Trump seems to want to champion. In fact, I may stand to gain a great deal from many of his aims, however, as a Christian, I must resist the urge to bury my head and trust all will have the same experience. I must be aware of the other voices who are fearful right now, as the man who campaigned on so much hate prepares to ascend to the presidency. I, in my privileged state, am tempted to say about Trump’s hatred attraction that it’s all just a bunch of media lies. And things may be overblown a bit, but again, I’m not a fair barometer of such hypotheses. We must understand one another by getting our hands dirty and listening to those who are fearful and experiencing life differently. We must protect those who are in the fringe’s crosshairs, who have undoubtedly gained a more mainstream voice from Trump’s election.
So let us pray for President Trump that the God of peace would invade his life, that he would humbly recognize that his strongman method of governing is limited, and that his office is only granted power because God has granted it. We must work with the President where he governs with godly principles and we must resist him when he goes against the Kingdom of God (which will be often). We must pray so that we’ll protect the vulnerable on behalf of the Lord whose home is made amongst the poor and weak. May it be so.