We've Seen this Before


I very much hesitate to write about politics, but things have gotten to a point for me that I can't not write about politics anymore.

It's reality. The President-elect is Donald Trump. I admit, I wasn't at all surprised by the results on election night, but I was saddened. I tried to play the "I don't care who won or lost" card, but really I think it's an absolute shame this fellow was elected. It seems that Americans wanted change so badly they were willing to overlook the fact that Trump's moral compass is made entirely out of Benjamin Franklins. Even more concerning is the strong belief out there among conservative Evangelicals that Trump's win was somehow God's doing; that God was blessing America for voting Trump over Clinton. These words betray a widely held belief that the order of evil in the world goes something like this:

Satan -- Democrats -- Clinton, Obama etc
I've also seen this belief work the other way: Satan -- Republicans -- Trump, Bush etc.



Either way, it's a theologically untenable position. While there are better political leaders than others and while at times one political party might seem better suited to run a country than another, assuming that God is vetting one party or candidate (especially in perpetuity) makes a mockery out of Christianity. I see this in Canada as well and it bothers me, but it's as if conservative Evangelicals have a magic checklist. If the person gets the right check-marks, the rest doesn't matter.
  1. Do they say they are a Christian? Check. 
  2. Are they Pro Israel? check. If not, they are probably a Democrat. See #1 and seriously question that claim. 
  3. Are they against the same moral issues as our group? Check. If not, they are probably a Democrat. See #1 and seriously question that claim. Call them dangerous and evil if necessary. 
  4. Do they claim they will create jobs? Check.
  5. If there is any conflict of interest, Pro Israel and moral issues win all debates. 
If all the checks line up, then that's the one we want to have access to our nuclear codes and represent us internationally.

On the left, the checklist goes something like this:
  1. Are they promising better healthcare? Check
  2. Will they create jobs? Check
  3. Will they help social justice causes? Check
  4. Will they protect the environment? Check
  5. If there are any conflicts of interest, reiterate points 1-5 more aggressively while pointing out the inconsistencies of the Right.
The fact is, for Christians Jesus is our leader and the only one who has been permanently vetted by God. Period. I think many Christians forget this fact during election cycles. It almost seemed like Christians weren't voting for a political leader of their country as much as who they thought would sit at the right hand of God for the next four years. I know this isn't actually the case, but I believe there is a parallel because politics sits a little too close to the center of faith for a lot of people.

In terms of policy, which is the thing that politics is made of, Trump had none. America voted for a politician who had no real policy framework (because he's not a politician), other than a broad series of short position statements and a catchy slogan. America basically bought a 97' Chevelle on promise that it has a "terrific" engine and is a "tremendous" deal.

We'll see.

In contrast, the Clinton campaign had scads of policy information that could be debated and discussed. But why bother. She and her legion of Democrat demons will destroy America, right? Wrong. No one can predict that. Furthermore, Hillary Clinton is a life-long practicing Methodist who by all accounts is serious about her faith.

http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2016/01/25/hillary-clinton-gets-personal-on-christ-and-her-faith/
https://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/we-know-plenty-about-clintons-religion/

Whether you like his policies or not, Barak Obama is also a Christian. And a faithful one at that.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thedudeabides/obama-on-faith-the-exclusive-interview/

As I've said before, the problem with Christians in Politics is that it ends up hurting and easily compromising the Christian part, because as serious as they are about their faith the political agenda always wins in politics whether it's jobs or immigration or fiscal policy. Plus, there's so much lobbying in Washington that good policy can get pretty well shredded and re-made by the time it reaches the house. The same thing happens in the UK.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/mar/12/lobbying-10-ways-corprations-influence-government

Coincidentally, it's rare to hear politicians campaigning based on the nuts and bolts of their actual policies. Perhaps it's because their policies never look the same from start to finish. There are too many people to please and rich lobbyists to account for. Campaigns are then based on generalizations and feel good statements. In this case, despite his flip-flopping on nearly every issue, Trump had the better feel good statement, "Make America Great Again". It was enough get him the win. As frightening as that is, that's not the scary part.

Unfortunately, the "Make America Great" slogan came with some serious baggage like racism, xenophobia, sexism, and homophobia. This is everything Christians should be standing against, but for some reason many in the Evangelical community aren't. The acceptance of Trump, to a lot of us, felt like the acceptance of this baggage which has led to rising tensions and protests. These protests are not stupid, and are not just millennial whining. These protests are serious displays of real anxiety felt over a man who set himself up to be one step away from the white supremacist groups he later denounced. Trump managed to awaken a depraved hate-filled side of the US public, and it's hard not to be infuriated by it, especially because I see Evangelical Christians often at the forefront of it. It is this Christianity that I am increasingly and intentionally distancing myself from, because it looks nothing like Christ.

Some of the protests against Trump have turned violent, and in one case a person was beaten up as people shouted "he voted for Trump, beat his a**" in the background. The fear and anger people are feeling is real. However, violence will only stoke the flames of hatred, searing it inside people's hearts, turning it into bitterness, which will eventually turn into rage.

The premise of electing the likes of Donald Trump reminds me of  what happened in Germany in 1932. I know, it seems like an extreme comparison but hear me out. A disenfranchised middle class, a nation people feared was going to be destroyed by economic collapse, widespread unemployment and a distorted vision of Christianity that hated it's neighbor combined to elect a dangerous megalomaniac. We've seen this before.

None of that is God's doing.

The good news in all of this is that the US has a political system which is incredibly rhobust, with many checks and balances designed to quell authoritarianism. There are also many stalwart members of the Republican party who strongly opposed Trump's hateful rhetoric, and it was relieving to see. These included George Bush Sr and Barbra Bush, Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, Bob Dole, Sally Bradshaw, Vin Weber, Gordon Humphrey, Chris Shays, and Jeb Bush. Check out the details: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/where-republicans-stand-on-donald-trump-a-cheat-sheet/481449/

I know that in all of this, I needed a reminder that for Christians, Love wins. Hate will only get us more hate and further away from Jesus. In the climate we face now, actively loving our neighbors is more important than ever.

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