Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Few Thoughts on the Election of Donald Trump

I was among the many Americans who stayed up until late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning watching the election returns stunned by what I was seeing. I knew that Trump had a small chance especially if he won Ohio (which the polling showed he more than likely was) and if he was competitive in Florida and North Carolina. Even then the likelihood of a victory would be difficult. He'd have to win most of the other swing states like Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and, if possible, Pennsylvania (a state that tempts every Republican candidate yet disappoints every one of them).

In the end, outside of Nevada, Trump won every one of them and added to that list, to the shock of everyone, Wisconsin and Michigan. Trump did not just win, he won big. He has reshaped the electoral college map forcing Democrats to rethink their entire election strategy and given their dwindling local and state numbers, Democrats have not been in worse shape.

It is no secret that I was a proud member of both team #NeverHillary and team #NeverTrump. Both are unqualified for the office of the Presidency so regardless of who won, I was not going to be jubilant about the future of our nation. Nevertheless, after waking up after a brief post-election nap, a few thoughts comes to mind in response to last night's election in no particular order.

1. Anger wins elections but does not govern well.

Donald J. Trump won because the electorate is angry and to quote the great theologian Bruce Banner (aka "the Hulk") you won't like the American electorate when she's angry. There are a number of ways to drive voters to the polls: vision, fear, and anger. Perhaps Ronald Reagan captured the former the best with his vision of "Morning in America" motif. Even President Obama's Hope and Change bumperstickers fits in that category. Trump, however, though casting a vision of making America great, did so through the lens of fear and anger.

Watch his rally's and listen to his supporters and it is clear that to them enough is enough and although I am in no way a supporter of Trump I am sympathetic to this one point. President Obama's transformation of America has felt like a dismantlement of America internationally, socially, politically, and (certainly) morally. Enough is enough.

Yet there is a real problem with this road to victory. Anger and fear do not govern well. Trump's march to the White House has created many enemies and burned too many bridges. He has disenfranchised many conservatives and Republicans in his own party including both the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader (both Republicans). Add to that his despicable language toward minorities, immigrants, women, and the rest, Trump lacks a clear uniting mandate.

2. Christians Should Be Leery in Cheerleading Trump, But at Least We May Have His Ear

Twenty years ago Christians were united in declaring President Bill Clinton unfit for office due to his serial moral indiscretion. Clinton's adultery and persistent acts of fornication (in the Oval Office no less) in addition to lying under oath demanded political and moral courage of impeachment. Christians then demanded our Presidents to be men of high moral character.

Twenty years later we were the primary cheerleaders behind Donald Trump. This should bother us immensely.

This alone shows that the Christian conscience has been more seared by economic uncertainty than by the moral collapse of our country. As a Christian pastor, I cannot in good conscience be a cheerleader for a man who brags about sexual assault, adultery, fornication, divorce, and has a clearly questionable record on matters of race. Furthermore, his worldview remains unexplored, undeveloped, and self-centered. I see very little fruit of the Spirit in him.

With that said, Trump realizes that he could have never won the primaries without winning the evangelical vote. Thus my hope is that contrary to what the Clinton administration would have been, perhaps a Trump administration will at least lend us his ear. We will have to wait and see.

3. Elections have consequences; so does governing

The electorate is angry because President Obama and the party he leads has lead the country down a very radical, leftward path. The electorate has revolted.

Elections have consequences and America has changed dramatically these eight years, but politicians need to learn that governing has consequences as well and an angry electorate will only feel ignored for so long before they'll turn to anybody, anybody!, to turn back the tide.

4. Christianity is not republicanism. We must remain a prophetic voice no matter who occupies the White House.

The gospel does not advance through elections; it advances through the repentance of sinners. The gospel has political implications no doubt yet to confuse the gospel with politics or a political party is extremely dangerous. It is my fear that too many evangelicals have done just that.

Whoever won the election, it would remain necessary that Christians would speak from a conviction of the gospel outside of loyalty to party. That remains true in a Trump administration. Christians must speak truth to his new power - a power he relishes. Christians must be a prophetic voice willing to say to our adulterous President-elect, "It's not lawful for you to have your brother's wife" (Mark 6:18) regardless of the consequences.

I agree with Russell Moore in this regard:
The sort of conservatism that many of us had hoped for—a multiethnic, constitutionally-anchored, forward-looking conservatism—has been replaced in the Republican Party by something else. On the one hand, there’s a European-style ethno-nationalist populism, opposed by an increasingly leftward progressive movement within the Democratic Party. In both of these movements, moral concerns—certainly personal character and family stability questions—are marginalized. We now have a politics of sexual revolution across the board. This means that conservative evangelicals are politically homeless—whether they know it or not.

That is not the worst situation we could be in. Political power—or the illusion of it—has not always been good for us. Such influence has led us to conform our minds to that of the world about what matters, and who matters, in the long-run of history. We should, as missionary Jim Eliot put it a generation ago, own our “strangerhood.”

What can we do now? We can, first of all, maintain a prophetic clarity that is willing to call to repentance everything that is unjust and anti-Christ, whether that is the abortion culture, the divorce culture, or the racism/nativism culture. We can be the people who tell the truth, whether it helps or hurts our so-called “allies” or our so-called “enemies.”
Remember, our citizenship is in heaven.

5. Pray for your leaders

Scripture is clear that we are to pray, without hesitation, for our leaders whom we elect at all levels. This now includes Donald J. Trump. As a member of team #NeverTrump that includes me. Just as I prayed for a President who supported barbaric abortions and other dangerous social experiments for the past eight years, so too I must pray for our 45th President and his administration.
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