Tuesday, January 26, 2021

What We've Learned

I originally wrote this on November 9, 2016 and I thought it would be good to revisit now that the Trump presidency is over.  It's eery how prescient it seems now, with hindsight being what it is.  Particularly in light of the events after this most recent election and the violent insurrection of January 6, 2021.  I wanted to give this a week after the inauguration; I think it's timely now.

I've added a few editorial thoughts throughout with my feelings regarding our current state of the union.

"It's been a very interesting election season and the night itself last night proved to be just as unpredictable and frustrating. I look over the things we've learned this year and there are some bitter pills to swallow.
We've learned that fear is still the greatest political motivator.
          It still is, it's what has carried on through this election.  If I see one more post about how socialists are overtaking America, I might scream.  They all reveal a fundamental misunderstanding of what socialism actually means and looks like, and how easily that word can be used to stir up voter's fear.
We've learned that personality matters more than policy.
          Again, yes.  How many times has Sleepy Joe popped up?  Or that the new press secretary isn't as "appealing" as Kayleigh McEnany.
We've learned that opinions and feelings matter more than facts.
          Alternative facts, the Big Lie that the election was stolen despite no evidence to support it.  The fact that a number of Congressmen are still calling for an audit of the 2020 election simply because their supporters "feel" that it was illegitimate should be concerning enough, but when you remember that the base "feels" that way because their leadership lied to them, it's downright frightening.  Watching people like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Josh Hawley go out of their way to avoid saying their was actual fraud (because they can't support it), or to avoid saying that they believe there was actual fraud, but to continue to beat the drum of their supporters believing it has been nothing short of incredible.
We've learned that words do not matter.
          "There are very fine people on both sides."  "Proud boys, stand by and stand back." "Because you'll never take back our country with weakness.  You have to show strength and you have to be strong." "So go home, we love you, you're very special."  I could go on and on.  For everything, there's always a tweet.
We've learned that moral relativity is acceptable so long as it is for the right side.
          This is what broke me.  I'm old enough to remember the Clinton presidency well, and it's not hard to see great parallels between Clinton and Trump.  To see the same people in my circles who called for Clinton's head now praising Trump defies logic and description.
We've seen that the Church can be swayed with promises of power.
          This is the most disappointing.  How many in the church have not only just supported the Republican party, no matter what, but have whole heartedly embraced everything Trump stood for and shamed anyone who could not agree.  A president who displayed none of the characteristics of a Christian life, embraced by many as the savior of our country is disheartening.  The Christian imagery at the insurrection is sickening.
I wish President Trump the best, I really do. I hope he is at best able to surprise us and show a deftness in political maneuvering that is not expected, or at worst, he is truly just a figure head like he has indicated he wishes to be and lets Pence and the rest of his team actually run things.
          This lasted for a few months, apparently before Trump couldn't stand people telling him no.  The high turn over rate in his executive staff was historic.
But this is not a win for America. Honestly, there was no win for America in this election.
          Similarly, there was no win for America in this presidency.  We were not "made great again."  Our flaws were exposed and laid bare.  The worst demons of our nature were empowered.  And we will be dealing with its repercussions for years to come.
This is how the republic falls.
        And it nearly did.  More than anything, these last four years taught us how fragile our republic is.
A country extremely divided, with little hope of bridging those gaps and a incoming president whom seems more interested in continuing to drive the wedge with the policies that he has espoused. We are divided by race, religion, class, and education. And the polling statistics bear this out.
         We're still here.  We're still divided.  And this should be a friendly reminder that unity doesn't mean one party gets to hold the other hostage.  One party doesn't get to demand the other capitulate and then cry that the other doesn't want to unite.  
And this is not a win for the Republican Party. This reveals the path forward of the Republican Party for years to come and it's not pretty. It turns over traditional Republican values to the far right portion of the party.
         And the movement to the extremes continues as it seems Trump will either split or continue to guide the Republican party for the foreseeable future.  Hawley, Cruz, Gohmert, Boebert, and Greene continue to pander to the Trump base, positioning themselves for greater position in the party because of it.
Dear God forgive us, I fear we know not what we do. We thank you that ultimately in control and watching over your people. Let us trust in you for our future and cling to you for our peace. Show us how to stand out and be different in this country going forward and to be your salt and light in this extremely divided climate."

The prayer remains the same.  I pray for the Biden administration.  I pray for our country.  I pray for the Church to repent of its idolatry of politics, to repent of its looking for an earthly king as a savior, and for it to get back to the business of being the set apart.

If only we would.

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